IMPORTANT UPDATE: Canadians in Legal Cannabis/ Marijuana Industry Will Now Be “Generally Admissible” To US

In a major turn around from my last post, Canadians working in the legal pot industry will be mostly admissible to the US without incident as long as they are coming into the States for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry.

Here is the latest CBP Statement on Canada’s Legalization of Marijuana and Crossing the Border

Unlike my last post, where any Canadians admitting to using marijuana recreationally, or working in the very soon to be legal marijuana industry, were facing a ban for life from the US, there has been a lighter stance taken. The most recent statement on the CBP website reads as follows:

 Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal LawConsequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension

Generally, any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.


A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.

So what should you know if you are a Canadian who uses or works in the Marijuana/ Cannabis industry about crossing in the United States?

  1. Marijuana is still illegal in the US federally — just admitting you may have used it ever could lead to a bar to entry.
  2. Do not bring in your legally PRESCRIBED marijuana, even if your doctor gave it to you, or you need it. It is still illegal and can result in incarceration, fines or a ban from crossing the border.
  3. It doesn’t matter where you cross. Marijuana is prohibited at the federal level. Even though some states, like Washington and Colorado, have chosen to legalize the drug, cannabis is still illegal in the US on a whole.

If you are a Canadian travelling to and from the US, and work or use cannabis, my advice would be to call an immigration lawyer to make sure you are prepared by the October 17 2018 legalization deadline. It is better to be proactive, then to lose your rights. For more on this topic, please read my last post which outlines the general regulations.


Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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