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article imageCanadian who admits smoking pot banned from entering U.S.

By Ken Hanly     Sep 10, 2016 in Travel
Vancouver - Even though the use of marijuana is legal in several U.S. states and Canada plans to legalize its use even for recreational purposes, a federal U.S. law allows people to be denied entry if they admit to smoking pot recreationally.
In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting System (CBC) Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said:"We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security. This does seem to be a ludicrous situation." He noted that the use of marijuana was legal in several U.S. states. Four allow recreational use and nine have the issue on the ballot in November. Trudeau promises to legalize it by the Spring of 2017.
The Canadian government has been speaking with the U.S. to inform that Canada intends to legalize the use of marijuana yet the issue of Canadians being stopped at the border remains unaddressed. Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Goodale said: "In terms of the practices of border guards in question, those only came to widespread attention recently and will be discussed in future bilateral discussions."
Matthew Harvey wanted to take his 3-year-old daughter to Disneyland in California but he has been banned from entering the U.S. for life because he admitted that he had smoked marijuana after the age of 18 and before he had received a medical marijuana licence. At the time, Harvey smoked the marijuana there was no program.
Harvey's problem began in 2014. He was driving from Vancouver to Seattle for a concert. Customs officer noticed a marijuana magazine in his car. He was questioned and detained for six hours. Harvey was then a legal marijuana user in Canada and was entering a state in which recreational and medical use of marijuana is legal. He did not think telling the truth would lead to any problems. However, marijuana is still a federally controlled substance.
To enter the U.S. Harvey must apply for a travel waiver which costs $585 US ($750 Cdn) and even that is on a discretionary basis and can be good for a year, two, or five depending on the officer granting it. Later this year fee goes up to $930 US.
Ralph Goodale said: "The present marijuana regime that has existed now for many years in both Canada and the United States has clearly failed Canadian and American young people because North American teenagers are among the biggest users of marijuana in the western world. We will certainly work very hard to make sure that they understand that we're moving a regime with respect to marijuana that will be far more effective than theirs."
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau admitted publicly in 2013 that he had smoked marijuana "five or six times" in the past. Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer in Blaine Washington who has processed a number of waiver applications says that Trudeau would be admissible under a diplomatic passport and so would probably have no trouble, but as a private citizen he would not be admissible and would need waivers for the rest of his life. Saunders advised Canadians asked about their marijuana use at the border simply to refuse to answer. However, you may end up being held for several hours before they let you pass through. Harvey suggests a policy of simply denying that you used pot for recreation.
Officials at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, the U.S. State Department, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection all did not respond to a request to comment by the Guardian.
More about legalizing marijuana, Canada US relations, Ralph Goodal
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