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Immigration Law Blog

Blog on immigration law information, issues and news.

How Will Canada’s Legalization of Marijuana Affect U.S. Immigration?

On October 17, 2018 Canada legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The legalization of marijuana at a national level makes Canada the second country behind Uruguay to pass such a law. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould stated that this was a, “historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada.”

Now that Canada has legalized marijuana, how will this affect U.S. immigration? U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson, Stephanie Malin, stated that, “Regardless of Canada’s legalization of marijuana today, nothing will be changing on the U.S. side or with CBP policies and procedures at the border…Marijuana remains a controlled substance under U.S. federal law and it remains illegal.” The sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana will still remain illegal under U.S. federal law despite it being legal in some U.S. States and Canada.

The consequences for crossing the border at a U.S. port of entry with marijuana will result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension, as stated on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection official website. You are permitted to use marijuana in Canada but you are not permitted under any circumstances to bring it into the United States. CBP officers are thoroughly trained on admissibility factors and the Immigration and Nationality Act. In which broadly governs the admissibility of travelers into the United States. Determining whether a traveler is admissible lies with the CBP officer based on facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time. In other words, if an immigrant legally marijuana in Canada and admits their use to CBP officers, they will be deemed inadmissible to the United States and may need to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility to visit or get a visa to enter the United States. Waivers of inadmissibility are expensive - both in terms of legal fees and time waiting for them to be processed, and they are also subject to the discretion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer reviewing the application. If you, a loved one or employee has admitted marijuana use to the CBP and would like to enter the United States, they should seek the advise of a qualified immigration attorney.

Mercedes Riggs