On October 17, 2018, the federal government legalized recreational cannabis across Canada. The new recreational cannabis industry is governed provincially. There has been recent concern of workers and investors in Canada being declared inadmissible to the United States for involvement in the cannabis industry. This concern has recently been addressed by the US Customs and Border Protection.
On October 9, 2018, the US Customs and Border Protection updated their policy on Canada’s legalization of cannabis and crossing the US/Canada border. Canadian citizens working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal recreational cannabis industry in Canada who are seeking entry into the United States for reasons not related to the cannabis industry will generally be admissible to the US. However, Canadian citizens who are seeking entry into the US for reason related to the cannabis industry will likely be inadmissible to the US. Prohibited activities may include attending cannabis conferences or business meetings to improve or commence production of cannabis products. The fact that the activity will take place within a state where recreational cannabis has been legalized is irrelevant because the requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the US are governed by US federal law, which supersedes state laws.
Interestingly, the above noted US Customs and Border Protection policy only applies to Canadian citizens. This means permanent residents of Canada and foreign workers on valid Canadian work permits may still be denied entry into the US for working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal recreational cannabis industry in Canada.
For further information, please contact one of the lawyers in our Immigration Law Practice Group.