Canadian Potheads Can Cross the US Border as Long as They Aren't ‘Alien Drug Addicts’
That’s right, border officials just called cannabis consumers "addicts."
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Good news for the legions of white dudes cashing in on legal weed—they will be allowed into the US on personal trips. But if you’ve legally smoked a joint, you may be out of luck.
The US government issued an update this week on its border policy as it pertains to Canada’s imminent legalization of recreational cannabis. The statement, issued by US Customs and Border Protection, says Canadians who work in legal weed “will generally be admissible to the US.” However, they may not be allowed to enter the US if they’re going there for business reasons related to cannabis.
This is more or less a reversal of what US border official Todd Owner told Politico last month, when he said cannabis workers and cannabis investors can expect a lifetime ban from the US.
The updated statement also specified that a “drug abuser or addict” would not be welcome in the US.
“Any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of… any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.”
So basically, anyone who admits to having consumed cannabis is still at risk for a lifetime ban from America. Canadians with convictions over cannabis-related crimes are not allowed to cross the border.
Black and Indigenous Canadians are disproportionately arrested for weed crimes, while a VICE News investigation from last year found that Canada’s licensed producers are largely run by white men.
The federal government has not laid out a plan to grant amnesty to Canadians with weed convictions, and has only said it would look at the issue after legalization takes place. Last week, the NDP tabled a bill calling for the government to expunge the criminal records of Canadians with simple pot possession convictions.
Currently, to be granted a pardon for a conviction, a Canadian must wait five to ten years after their sentence is served and pay hundreds of dollars for a pardon application, which could be denied. Even if granted, their criminal record is seen as “forgiven” rather than being expunged, so there are still potentially issues with crossing the border.
But if you’re one of these former cops or politicians (let’s be honest, how many weed CEOs even smoke weed?), you’re probably fine.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.