The U.S. and Canada should work towards a compromise on cannabis

The U.S. and Canada should work towards a compromise on cannabis

Canadians involved in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry could find themselves in hot water while attempting to enter the United-States. Many immigration lawyers are asking the Federal government for help.

According to CTV News, he U.S Customs and Border Protection Agencies released a statement last week that “legalization in Canada won’t change the fact that American laws treat marijuana as a banned substance, and industry insiders as drug traffickers.”

This despite the fact that there are already jurisdictions in the U.S. that permit medical and recreational use of marijuana, even though Federal Law prohibits the sale, possession, production and distribution of cannabis.

According to a statement released by an agency spokesperson “– crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension,”.

Jon Jurmain, an immigration lawyer based in Thorold, Ont., warns that having a Nexus card will is no guarantee either. “I have a U.S. citizen client who had his Nexus pulled because a dog smelled pot on his passenger, and my client answered a question about smoking pot and admitted to previously smoking pot,” Jurmain said in an email.

“No pot was found.”

Border Security Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday he doesn’t believe anything is going to change at the border after Oct. 17, the date the federal government has set for legalization to take effect.

“My expectation is that border security agents on both sides of the border will continue to do their job to protect the sovereignty and security of their country in the way in which they have been doing it in the past, and my expectation is that it will continue.”

Lawyers with expertise in helping people cross the Canada-U.S. border say it should fall to Ottawa — not travellers who are taking part in a perfectly legal business enterprise — to help pave the way.

Henry Chang, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer with Blaney McMurtry who specializes in Canada-U.S. matters, says the two countries have consulted productively on immigration issues in the past during the presidency of Donald Trump, and this time should be no different.

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