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Canadians going to cannabis expo in Las Vegas detained at border

“He was traveling straight from Vancouver to Vegas. When they found out he was going down to tour the marijuana facility and that he was an investor in marijuana, they gave him a lifetime ban,” said Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer based in the border town of Blaine, Wash., who was consulted by the individual after receiving the ban, reports the Financial Post.

The individual does not want to be named according to Saunders who says, “He’s very embarrassed. He’s also shell-shocked. I feel bad for the guy.” At least 12 Canadians working in the cannabis industry were detained for hours at U.S. CBP’s pre-clearance zone at Toronto’s Pearson Airport after they said they were headed for the same conference.

The gentleman received his lifetime ban on November 14, as he traveled to Las Vegas to attend the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, one of the largest gatherings of cannabis industry players. About 27,000 people from 70 countries flocked to Las Vegas for the three-day event that opened November 14.

Saunders has a transcript of the verbal exchange between the individual and the U.S. border guard at Vancouver International Airport’s pre-clearance area. The gentleman was asked if he understood that an investment in the U.S. cannabis industry was a “violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act related to controlled substance trafficking.”

“I learned that today,” the individual replied.

There is a way to get around a lifetime travel ban into the United States, according to Saunders – People can apply for a 5-year waiver, but he says it takes a long time and is a very cumbersome process.

This latest incident is not the first of its kind. In July, the Toronto Star described the recent tensions at the U.S.-Canadian border — and the underlying effort to halt the marijuana industry in the U.S. — as a quiet, slow-burning conflict that appears to be growing.

Venture-Capitalist Sam Znaimer is from Vancouver, British Columbia. He was stopped at the border in May while traveling to the U.S. Znaimer was never asked about his personal consumption of pot, even though this question is allowed because marijuana is illegal in the U.S. based on federal statutes. Instead, Znaimer said Homeland Security interrogated him about his investments.

“In the course of four hours, they never did ask [about pot consumption] and I believe that was because they wanted to send a message to Canadians that it has not only to do with your personal behavior but whether in any way you have invested in these companies,” he said, according to Digital Journal.

The Cannabis Business Times sees these and numerous other episodes where Canadians have either been denied entry or banned from entering the U.S. as a major problem at the border if CBP continues its aggressive questioning tactics. And it seems that for Canadians with investments in pot companies at home, the CBP agents couldn’t care less. They just don’t want Canadians investing in U.S. pot companies.

As a matter of fact, Saunders testified before a Canadian Senate committee on Bill C-45 on March 19, 2018. He said: “When Trump talks about building a wall on the southern border, I see a wall on the northern border for Canadians because of marijuana.”

A Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs press officer for the U.S. State Department said via email to the Toronto Star that “admission requirements into the United States will not change due to Canada’s legalization of cannabis.”

Is anyone curious about those 27,000 people attending the Cannabis Conference and Expo in Las Vegas? After all, the participants are from 70 countries, according to the press release. How did all those people from other countries get into the United States?

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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