- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2018

Canadians involved with the nation’s legal marijuana industry risk being barred from life from entering the United States, according to a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official.

Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the CBP’s Office of Field Operations, said Canadians can be denied entry and permanently banned from visiting the U.S. for working or investing in marijuana, even once federally legal recreational weed sales begin north of the border next month, Politico reported Thursday.

“If you work for the industry, that is grounds for inadmissibility,” Mr. Owen said.

Marijuana is illegal under U.S. law, and the federal Immigration and Nationality Act allows customs officials to refuse entry to anyone who “is or has been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance,” including cannabis, a Schedule 1 narcotic categorized alongside heroin under the Controlled Substances Act.

Border authorities can ban others indirectly involved with Canada’s marijuana industry from entering the U.S., Mr. Owen continued, including investors since the Immigration and Nationality Act applies to people who have financially benefited from the plant, Politico reported.

“We don’t recognize that as a legal business,” Mr. Owen added. “Facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect an individual’s admissibility to the U.S.”

Canadians who use marijuana but make their money elsewhere risk being denied entry as well under the same immigration law. Noncitizens seeking entry can be found inadmissible for committing or admitting to either a controlled substances offense a “crime of moral turpitude,” regardless of whether they were convicted, according to the act.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said during a 2016 interview that he would raise concerns with the U.S. after several major news reports highlighted specific examples of Canadians barred from visiting on account of their admitted marijuana use amid states legalizing the plant for medical and recreational purposes in spite of federal prohibition.

“We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security,” Mr. Goodale said at the time. “This does seem to be a ludicrous situation.”

Canada subsequently legalized marijuana earlier this year, following through on a campaign promise pledged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prior to being elected in 2015 and paving the way for provinces to start allowing retail pot sales starting Oct. 17.

A report released earlier this year by Canada’s fourth-largest bank predicted the nation’s legal cannabis market will approach $6.5 billion in retail sales by the end of the decade.

Thirty-one states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, meanwhile, including seven that has passed laws permitting retail sales.

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