Travel Tips - Visiting the United States
With marijuana legalization in Canada set to take place October 17th travelling to the United States is likely to become more strenuous and scrutinized for Canadians.
Admitting to having used cannabis, or even being involved in / employed by the cannabis industry can wind up with you being denied entry into the United States or even banned from the United States for life. It has gone so far that even having investments in cannabis related stocks can have you banned as well.
U.S. customs officials or border agents have it at their discretion what questions they ask and what consequences they deem appropriate. One thing we can expect to see after legalization is the rise in the number of questions around cannabis. It is expected to rise so much so that the Government of Canada has issued a warning on their website.
While we are not telling you to lie, telling the truth about your cannabis use, or involvement in the cannabis industry, could result in a lifetime ban or denial of entry.
With such extreme measures we want to make sure you are as knowledgeable as possible regarding your rights when crossing the border and about what things to do/avoid in order to make the process as painless as possible.
What to know
- Border Officials can ask if you have ever used cannabis, including for medical purposes.
- Border Officials can ban you from entry, ban you for a period of time, or ban you for life.
- Border Officials cannot give you a drug test, regardless of their claims they can.
- Border Officials cannot subject you to a lie detector test, regardless of their claims they can.
- Border Officials may claim they can hold you indefinitely or arrest you for not telling the truth, they cannot.
- You cannot bring cannabis or cannabis products/paraphernalia across the border.
- The border prohibition still applies to people authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes.
Things to do
- Be polite and respectful - Refer to the officials as sir or ma'am, do not heavy sigh or roll your eyes.
- Be patient - border crossing isn't exactly pleasant, and sometime it may take longer than you want it to.
- Be consistent - changing a story raises suspicions.
- Know the addresses/names of where you are going/staying, and if driving the routes you are planning to take.
Things to avoid
- Avoid having the scent of cannabis on your person, belongings, or in your vehicle.
- Avoid having resin in your pockets/on your person.
- Avoid wearing cannabis related clothing / jewellery, or having cannabis related paraphernalia in your luggage/vehicle.
- Avoid travelling while high.
- Refrain from having 'attitude'.
We anticipate the first year or so after legalization of cannabis in Canada to be accompanied by the most scrutiny at the border but strongly suggest taking what we have mentioned above into consideration when doing any travelling oversees.
Travel with care and safe journeys!