WATCH ABOVE: Since anyone over age 21 can now head to Washington state to buy marijuana, there are some things Canadians should know before heading south. Tanya Beja explains.
VANCOUVER – So what do Canadians need to know if they plan to do some cross border shopping for the newly legalized American weed?
In the past, Canadians have been turned back at the U.S. border after admitting to smoking marijuana, but what will the regulatory changes mean for Canadians purchasing marijuana in the U.S. and how are border officers reacting to the new laws?
Turns out, if you admit that you’re planning to buy pot, you will likely be turned away for life.
“You do not need a conviction for marijuana possession or use to be deemed inadmissible to the U.S.,” says Len Saunders from The Immigration Law Firm. “The mere admission that you’ve used marijuana or that you plan to use it, or that you plan to purchase it, it’s the admission itself which could deem you inadmissible for life.”
Even though Washington State residents voted to legalize marijuana, it’s use is still prohibited under U.S. federal law and the border is within federal jurisdiction.
Marijuana stores in Bellingham say they welcome their Canadian customers, as long as you are over 21 years old and know that products are for use only in the Washington State.
If you don’t make it that far and are turned away for life you have no chance to appeal. However, you can apply for a $600 waiver that could take months, or even years to process.
That is what happened in Jessica Goldstein’s case. She has no criminal record but was interrogated, searched and banned from the U.S. after admitting to smoking pot in the past.
So what to do if a guard asks you about your cross-border consumption plans?
“Don’t lie,” said Saunders. “But you don’t have to answer that question. That is not a question that you are required to answer. You can just say you’re going shopping and leave it at that.”
If your ‘shopping trip’ is a success, don’t even think about bringing any souvenirs home. The Canada Border Services Agency says carrying marijuana over the border is still a crime and those caught could be arrested and face charges.
– With files from Tanya Beja