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Marijuana Drug Laws and Traveling Abroad: What You Need to Know

With the legalization of marijuana in Canada for recreational purposes in process, as well as it being legal in numerous states already in the United States, there are a few things Canadian travelers need to know about marijuana usage when they visit the United States.

The United States Border Patrol has been asking Canadians entering the country whether they have ever used cannabis/marijuana. Some Canadians are answering yes they have in locations where it is legal, like Colorado.

Colorado is a popular destination for many Canadians, not just because they can legally use marijuana, but because of the hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, and other great outdoor activities. Unfortunately, admitting one has used marijuana, even when they have visited states in the U.S. where it is legal, could result in a lifetime ban from the United States.

Once marijuana sales begin for recreational use legally come this summer here in Canada, you could still be banned from entering the United States. If their U.S. border patrol agents inquire about your marijuana usage, and if you answer yes, they can turn you away along with issue a lifetime ban.

Many Canadians travel abroad in the summertime to visit popular locations in the United States, like New York City, Las Vegas, or the major theme parks in Orlando, Florida. The last thing you want is to have your vacation holiday plans ruined because of a simple slip up when answering questions at the U.S. border, let alone the possibility of never being able to enter the U.S. again.

Why Is the U.S. Border Patrol Doing This?

Part of the reason for the U.S. Border Patrol’s questions over marijuana use is because at the U.S. Federal level, marijuana is still considered illegal and a controlled substance. If one admits to using marijuana at the U.S. border, the border patrol agents may infer this implies you will engage in using marijuana while in the United States – a federal crime.

Even more confusing is in states where marijuana is legal for medical and/or recreational use, the states’ laws only apply in that state. While the U.S. Federal Government recognizes the state’s right to legalize the drug for medical and/or recreational use, the U.S. Government still considers the usage of marijuana a drug offence.

If you are planning on traveling abroad to the United States for business, a vacation holiday or other reasons, remember to not risk potentially be banned for life from the U.S. Even when entering states at the Canadian/U.S. border where it is legal for recreational use, like Washington or Maine, you could still be banned for admitting using marijuana.

If you are asked about your marijuana usage at the U.S. border, do not lie to the agent as this can also get you banned for life. Instead, you have the legal right to refuse to answer the question. While this may prevent you from entering the U.S., it is still far better to be denied entry once than risk being banned for life.

If you are facing criminal drug charges here in Toronto, you need an experience Toronto criminal defence lawyer, like Jeff Hershberg. Call 416-428-7360 for a consultation today!