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Regional Pot Workers Could Face Lifetime Ban From US News Centre News

16 September 2018

A top official of the U.S. Customs Border Protection confirmed earlier this week that anyone working or investing in Canada's cannabis industry will be treated as if they are an illegal drug trafficker.

Canada is set to legalize recreational use of cannabis on October 17, but the drug is still illegal under U.S. Federal law.

Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations, told Politico that border officials will question Canadians about their marijuana use if they have cause to do so.

"Our officers are not going to be asking everyone whether they have used marijuana, but if other questions lead there - or if there is a smell coming from the auto, they might ask", the official said.

Also, marijuana residue - which can linger inside of a auto - could possibly be detected by inspection dogs and lead to further questioning.

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Owen says if a traveller is asked about past use use, he shouldn't lie.

If such history is learned about someone trying to cross the border, Owen explained, or they lie about it, "that's fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban".

According to Politico, whether or not the traveller enters the U.S., a record will be kept by the border agency and that traveller will not be allowed to return to the US.

However, Owen, who oversees U.S border operations, said the traveler would still be able to apply for a waiver from the lifetime ban, which can takes months to be processed and costs $585.

He added, "At a time when public opinion and the culture around marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the U.S. but around the world, it is inane for United States border officials to maintain such a draconian and backward-looking policy".

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That may be tricky for people who work in the marijuana industry, given that border agents often ask for a visitor's occupation. Likewise, investors in pot companies are considered inadmissible.

Employment lawyer Howard Levitt says workers in Canada's cannabis sector who don't want to run the risk of being banned permanently from entering the United States should consider finding a new job.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday Canada is working with USA officials try to make sure travel between the two countries is not disrupted.

"Every country has the right to judge who gets to come into their borders or not", he said. I wouldn't presume to have any other country tell me how or who we can let into Canada.

"A lot of people don't understand that they are still going to have problems after legalization", said Henry Chang, a partner at Blaney McMurtry LLP in Toronto who handles immigration law on both sides of the border.

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In the US, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., while medical marijuana is legal in more than two dozen states.

Regional Pot Workers Could Face Lifetime Ban From US News Centre News