B.C. woman who told U.S. border guards she smoked pot must pay $600 to cross again

A B.C. woman who was denied entry into the U.S., and barred for life, for admitting she’d smoked marijuana can now cross the border again.

Jess Goldstein was heading to a music festival in Washington last September when she told the U.S. border guard she had smoked pot the week before.

Despite the fact she had done nothing criminal, she says she was questioned for six hours and her car was searched, before she was told she could never enter the U.S. again.

She owns a cabin in Washington State and her father is American so Goldstein says she used to cross quite often.

Now Goldstein says she can cross the border but only because she was granted an official waiver, which cost her almost $600, and has to be renewed again next year.

Story continues below advertisement

If she wants to travel to the U.S. she will have to pay that sum every time she renews the waiver. In two years she can apply for a two-year waiver and if granted, she will pay again two years after that. In addition, she has to get a new criminal record check every times she re-applies as well, and that costs $75.

“The maximum is five years, they gave [Jess] one,” says Goldstein’s lawyer Len Saunders. “So, baby steps.”

Goldstein will have to show that waiver at the border every time she wants to cross, and unless the federal laws change in the U.S. she will be paying for the rest of her life.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“There was a lot of steps to go through,” says Goldstein. “It was not just simply filling out a form, there was a lot of things, I had to have a criminal record check done, I had to have proof of employment, I had to have a letter of recognition from some citizens in Canada, like a character reference. All these things I had to get together, so it was actually quite a bit of running around.”

Goldstein says she feels this whole process was arbitrary. She says a few weeks before she had crossed the border with her ex-boyfriend and the border guard had asked them the same question and there were no problems.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s very arbitrary, there’s no standard, it just depends on who you get at the border and if they’re having a good day or a bad day,” she says.

“Honesty isn’t always the best policy, unless they can prove that you’ve done something criminal, then just say no.”

Sponsored content