As of October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana use and certain commercial activities. Despite the fact that cannabis is also legal in 9 U.S. States, the use, possession, distribution, and production of marijuana remain illegal under U.S. federal law and has immigration consequences for foreign nationals.
Foreign nationals who use, buy, or possess marijuana may face immigration consequences even if those activities take place in a jurisdiction where marijuana is legal. Personal use and possession of marijuana can cause an alien to be inadmissible if a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer believes the alien possesses or has used marijuana in Canada or elsewhere. The same would apply even if the use is based on medical grounds. These consequences can result in a denial of entry, denial of visa or ESTA, a finding of inadmissibility to the U.S., and a temporary or permanent bar from the U.S.
There is very little guidance regarding working or providing services to the Canadian cannabis industry. In a recent statement published on the CBP website, the organization has indicated that Canadians citizens who work in or support the industry will generally be admitted to the States if the purpose of their travel is unrelated to the industry. However, there are anecdotal reports of individuals working or marketing for cannabis companies being turned away by CBP, and if the cross-border travel is deemed by the CBP officers to have some connection to the cannabis industry, the individual can still be found inadmissible.
Foreign nationals travelling to the United States from Canada should expect to be questioned about their personal use, commercial activities, financial transactions, or investments in the cannabis industry.
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