Cannabis and the Canadian Border: Banning Entry to the United States


Canadian-U.S. Border – Banning entry into the United States

Legalization of recreational cannabis invokes the notion that Canadians working in the soon-to-be-legal cannabis industry are now viewed as direct and indirect drug traffickers; capitalizers of an illegal drug trade, as it is still federally classified in the United States.

This means the state of affairs for Canadians travelling to the U.S. is looking pretty grim and with no sign of letting up. In fact border crossing is only destined to become more hostile in the coming months.

Even Canadians with a “loose association” to the industry can and will face lifetime bans from entering the United States, and 2017 laws passed enable border patrol officials to seize and investigate the electronic devices of Canadian travellers.

One lawyer in particular based in Blaine, Washington, just beyond the Vancouver border, has received an influx of Canadian cases whereby sound businesspeople are now facing lifetime bans to the U.S. “Once banned for life, they must seek legal waivers from an immigration lawyer – good for between one and five years – for the rest of their lives when they wish to cross the border”, writes Perrin Grauers in one Star Metro Vancouver article, published July 2018.

Len Saunders, the aforementioned immigration lawyer in Blaine, WA, now receives up to four new cases per week from Canadians facing lifetime travel bans to the United States. Saunders even believes that American guards spend their time searching Canadian cannabiz websites, “taking note of individuals listed as staff members in case one of them tries to cross into the U.S.”, writes Grauers.

When consulted about what these individuals should now do, Saunders is advising them to “either get out of the business or stop travelling to the U.S.”– a familiar transcription repeated across various trending articles.

The fraught lunacy of these occurrences goes without saying, yet choosing the right words is now more difficult than ever because “lying to a federal officer will earn a lifetime ban, as will admitting the truth”, says Perrin Grauers.

The proper precautions must be taken.

Canadians have resorted to using burner phones while crossing the border, shipping their real phones to their destinations ahead of time, or leaving their electronic devices at home all together.

The intensity of this issue will continue gaining media attention as waves of new Canadian cases spill over international borders everyday.

The apparent problem is that Canada’s desirable recreational regulations has made it easy for American investors and business people to enter into the marketplace, yet the same laws have complicated matters on the other side of the border.

Liberal Canada’s got the right idea in terms of ending its prejudice towards flora, but many savvy business folk know that America’s got the numbers; both in terms of population and economy.

When performing a reduction of the information presented by these many cases, it’s clear that what it boils down to is an issue of oppression and control.

Rumours of data sharing between the two governments, say by the government-sanctioned Ontario provincial retail locations and American border personnel, also pose a major threat to Canadians operating beneath the false veil of protection.

A notion that is supported by Vancouver’s Georgia Straight contributor Travis Lupick, who writes: “since most provinces and territories (including B.C.) have decided to sell recreational marijuana via stores and online outlets owned by provincial authorities, many Canadians at risk of U.S. travel bans will be employees of a provincial government”.

With no current solution to the problem, Canadians must use discretion while assessing the risk factor associated with travelling to the United States.

Without a hopeful concluding note, the state of affairs actually becomes increasingly disillusioned the more we investigate.

Canadians expressing shock at receiving lifetime bans stand as a warning sign to the rest of us who mustn’t get caught off guard.

It is each individual’s responsibility to take full accountability for his or her actions while moving forward into such intrusive times.


                                                                          About the Author

Haley Nagasaki

Canadian cannabis writer Haley Nagasaki

Cannabis writer Haley Nagasaki

Haley Nagasaki is a Canadian freelance writer based on Vancouver Island. She has been active in the cannabis space since 2016, and demonstrates passionate interest in the nexus point where mental, physical, and spiritual wellness intersect.



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