Tourists and travelers are crossing the United States/Canada border on a daily basis. The reasons for crossing the border are varied.
For anyone that is involved with cannabis in any way, the border crossing could turn into a nightmare experience that could have a lifelong impact.
That is because the United States has a policy that if someone has been involved with cannabis in any way, even if they haven’t consumed it, they could receive a lifetime ban from entering into the U.S.
The United States’ policy has been in effect for a long time, but a spike in enforcement has occurred recently and it has left a lot of people scratching their heads and asking why?
What specifically about cannabis is getting people banned?
To put into perspective how stringent the U.S. policy is along the Canadian border consider the case of Olympic gold medalist Ross Rebagliati.
Ross Rebagliati won a gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics. The medal was later taken from him after Rebagliati was determined to have tested positive for cannabis during the Olympics.
The taking of the gold medal was widely publicized and that publicity was enough to get Rebagliati a lifetime ban from the U.S.
The ban was applied when he tried to cross into the U.S. to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Since he was known to have consumed cannabis in the past he was denied entry and received the ban.
Rebagliati didn’t receive the ban for trying to smuggle cannabis into the U.S. He received it simply because he was known to have consumed cannabis in the past. Sadly, his story is far from unique.
Cannabis industry members are particularly at risk of receiving a ban
Recently, enforcement has ramped up at the U.S./Canada border. More and more cases are popping up in news media articles in which travelers are being detained for long periods just to then receive a lifetime ban.
U.S. Border Patrol agents are asking people if they have any involvement in the cannabis industry in Canada, even if the involvement is just ancillary.
One recipient of a lifetime ban is Jay Evans. Mr. Evans is the CEO of agricultural equipment manufacturer Keirton Inc.
Some of his equipment designs can be used by cannabis industry members, but he otherwise has no link to the cannabis industry.
Border Patrol agents caught wind that his designs could be used by the cannabis industry and that was enough for the ban to be handed down.
Evans wasn’t even determined to be a cannabis consumer, yet still received the ban. It appears that no matter how loose the affiliation is with cannabis if there’s even a tiny affiliation, the ban is applied.
Such a policy is ripe for abuse because the criteria for receiving a ban is extremely subjective.
People can file for an exception, but it’s still a harmful policy
Just because someone receives the lifetime ban does not mean that they have no chance to ever enter the United States.
Ban recipients can file for, and receive, a temporary waiver which is what happened with Olympic gold medalist Ross Rebagliati.
But the waiver approval is at the discretion of the U.S. government, approval is far from guaranteed, and approval is only temporary.
People like Rebagliati have to apply for waivers for the rest of their lives, which for many people can result in a lot of unnecessary chaos.
For some people, it can mean not seeing their family, and/or losing out on employment opportunities, and/or possibly being unable to seek medical treatment with specialists located in the United States.
This level of discrimination is ridiculous, to say the least, and something needs to be done about it. With Canada set to legalize cannabis later this year the problem will likely only get worse.
The U.S. government needs to change this policy immediately before more harm is caused.
Please contact your federal lawmakers and demand action, either via a policy change or even better – full legalization! Both options would solve the issue at the border.