#1 rule: do not lie to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Dave Chidley)
This will cause a lot of trouble, to say the least. Crossing the border has always been a tense experience. For the thousands of Canadians who will be joining the legalized cannabis industry, it’s going to become even more harrowing.
Even though cannabis has been legalized for recreational or medical use in 30 U.S. states, the federal government still views it as a controlled substance. American border guards have immense latitude over who they let enter the country. If you’re not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, your rights at the border are very limited. Border guards have every right to ask you about your employment, drug use or even your investments.
It doesn’t matter where you’re crossing over. Even if you’re trying to enter a state like Washington or Maine, where cannabis is legal for recreational use, you can still be denied entry. Border guards work for the feds.
You don’t have to be directly involved in growing or selling cannabis to be turned away. They can reject you if you admit to having smoked pot in the past or if you’re involved in a business peripherally related to the cannabis industry. Worst of all, if you do get blocked at the border for any of these reasons, you could be deemed permanently inadmissible for entry to the U.S. That happened to Sam Znaimer, a Vancouver venture capitalist, who was denied entry because of his investments in legal American cannabis companies. Jay Evans, an equipment manufacturer who sells machines to legal B.C. cannabis producers, was also permanently denied entry because he was seen as living off the avails of the drug trade.