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Canada's legal marijuana creates risk for investors at U.S. border

16 September 2018

It was reported earlier this summer that admitting to smoking marijuana now or in the past can also result in a lifetime ban.

A senior United States border official told news site Politico that Canadians in the burgeoning sector could be deemed inadmissible to the US. Polls were taken in the past year or so have shown an overwhelming amount of support for the use of cannabis medicinally or recreationally, and that support has risen exponentially over the past 10-15 years.

Should a traveller admit to past use, he will be found to be "inadmissible" to the U.S.

Similar comments made by a border official to Politico sent USA -traded shares of Canadian marijuana companies tumbling Thursday.

Although Owen didn't specify any minimum level of investment, he signaled that the focus was more on those bringing the sector to the USA, which could have implications for the burgeoning sector.

"If you work for the industry, that is grounds for inadmissibility", Owen told Politico.

There have also been concerns that more Canadians will find themselves denied entry into the United States if they admit to using marijuana, or face increased searches or interrogation by USA officials.

"We don't recognize that as a legal business", said Todd Owen of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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

"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 vehicle, they might ask", the official said. The waivers are only granted at the discretion of CBP.

The rub is that it's illegal to have smoked the drug in Canada before October 17, and it's illegal to lie to any border agent who asks about it.

They say that despite one in eight Canadians using cannabis today, 400,000 people move between our two countries every day nearly entirely without incident. This is not to say that anyone who does work in this industry could potentially deny their participation in such, but the publicized move by the border agency seems to be more of a power play to show the U.S.'s need to continue its failed decades long "War on Drugs" now being led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

He also said many Canadians may be investors in cannabis stocks through major pension funds and mutual funds without being aware of it.

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.

Canada's legal marijuana creates risk for investors at U.S. border