The British Columbia representative in the Canadian Senate recently warned her constituents of potential problems that could arise when they cross the border to enter the United States. She says the imminent legalization of recreational marijuana and the relevant U.S. immigration laws could see Canadians facing heavy penalties. In fact, they might even be barred from the U.S. for life.
One of the questions U.S. border officials typically ask Canadian border-crossers is whether they use or have ever used cannabis. This question is like a double-edged sword for some because regardless of what they answer, entry into the U.S. will be a problem. If a person confirms that he or she had used marijuana in the past, the entry would likely be refused. However, if someone answers no, and it is later determined that it was a false reply, he or she may face fraud charges and might even be refused any future entry into the United States.
One option is to refuse to answer any questions, which might cause officials to deny entry on that occasion, but it could avoid permanent ineligibility for crossing the border from Canada. The fact that marijuana use is legal in the state of Washington — into which the British Columbia citizen will likely enter — makes no difference. This is because recreational use of marijuana remains a federal crime in the U.S. So, even though recreational cannabis use is legal on both sides of the border, it will not be a good idea to transport marijuana in either direction across the border.
Resources are available for British Columbia cannabis users who have questions about the applicable U.S. immigration laws. Answers can be provided by a law firm that focuses on helping people to enter the United States without problems. An experienced immigration lawyer can also assist with obtaining the necessary documents to prevent delays at the border.