Dope Shall Not Pass
The first lesson we are taught as children when it comes to crossing the border is to always tell the truth, because being caught could have dire consequences. But now people are being penalized for answering a simple question when crossing into the United States – have you ever smoked marijuana?
Over the last couple of weeks a number of people have been denied entry to the United States for the reason that their answer to that question was an honest yes. And the consequences of that answer are not insignificant as these people are finding themselves inadmissible to the United States for life by violating s.212 of the American Immigration and Nationality Act.
There is the possibility of attaining a travel waiver, but this process is both costly and discretionary. Currently obtaining this waiver costs $750 CAD and it will be going up to $1200. In addition, because of the discretionary nature it can be granted for as little as one year making this a very expensive answer indeed.
This will impact more and more people as the laws around marijuana use ease up in Canada under Prime Minister Trudeau, who has promised to introduce legislation around legalization by the spring of 2017.
The question is what are we going to do about it? The obvious option is for individuals to deny, deny, deny. And, admittedly, at the moment this seems like it may be the only feasible option for those people travelling to the United States who have ever partaken in the substance. But that is not exactly a long term solution.
A long term solution is one where our two countries work together in tackling this problem because it’s not going away. And, in fact, as Canadian laws around marijuana become more progressive (along with some US states) it is only going to become a greater problem.
It’s hard to imagine that the lesson we should be learning from this is that we should lie at the border, but it does seem like denial may be the better option for now.
Kali Larsen (2L) is the News Editor for Juris Diction.