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'Legal' pot smokers should still be prepared for hassles at the border

Last Updated Apr 14, 2017 at 7:38 pm PDT

The Peace Arch border crossing looking south. (NEWS 1130 File Photo)
Summary

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in many states but it's still a federal offence in the US

US lawyer says you can be stopped at the border if you admit to having smoked marijuana some time in your life

BELLINGHAM (NEWS 1130) – No doubt lots of Canadians will be looking forward to toking up guilt-free next year.

But, depending on how honest you are, you could encounter problems at the border.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in many states including Washington State, Colorado and Oregon.

But it’s still a federal offence in the US.

“It’s going to be confusing as Canada liberalizes its marijuana laws,” says Greg Boos, of Bellingham-based Cascadia Cross-Border Law.

He warns a US border agent can deny you entry if you admit to having smoked marijuana some time in the past.

Don’t rely on the fact you’re going down to do some work at a legitimate marijuana company.

“You can have a Canadian who wants to invest in a marijuana grow operation in Washington state. That person won’t not be granted a visa to manage his state-approved marijuana grow operation.”

And that goes for people in any pot-related businesses.

“You can have a Canadian company that is selling lighting systems to legal Washington state marijuana growing businesses, and if the people at the border find out, they will not let them cross.”

People rejected at the border can apply and pay for a waiver to get into the US. But that needs to be done before arriving at the border.

And just because you’ve successfully entered the US and may be living there, doesn’t mean your past still can’t catch up with you.

Boos says he’s heard of people getting denied American citizenship because they admitted to smoking marijuana in states where it’s legal.

He doesn’t anticipate the US government to change its stance anytime soon.

“Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General in the US, is very anti-marijuana. So we expect these marijuana-related issues to just get worse over the short term.”