On Thursday, a senior US border official told the American online publication Politico that Canadians who invest in cannabis companies or work in the industry could be turned away at the border, even after recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada next month.
Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations, told Politico that border officials will question Canadians about their marijuana use if they have cause to do so. It has been legalized in nine US states and Washington, D.C., but remains illegal at a federal level.
While some USA states allow pot use, the drug remains federally illegal. Still, he said you mustn't lie about it, since that would be "fraud and misrepresentation, which carries a lifetime ban".
On October 17, 2018 in Canada, marijuana will be legal to buy and smoke across the country.
Another official said those participating in the marijuana business may be turned away at the border.
Similar comments made by a border official to Politico sent US -traded shares of Canadian marijuana companies tumbling Thursday.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said during a 2016 interview that he would raise concerns with the US after several major news reports highlighted specific examples of Canadians barred from visiting on account of their admitted marijuana use amid states legalizing the plant for medical and recreational purposes in spite of federal prohibition.
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"Despite one-in-eight Canadians using cannabis today, 400,000 people move between our two countries every day nearly entirely without incident", Goodale spokesman Scott Bardsley said by email.
"Officials from the United States have said that they do not plan on changing their questions at primary inspection after cannabis is legalized in Canada".
Overzealous border agents could encourage even more Canadians to stay home, at a time when President Donald Trump is targeting the country in trade negotiations.
Grant McLeod, a senior vice-president of regulatory affairs at Beleave Kannibis, has been in the USA several times since entering the cannabis industry.
Jordan Sinclair, with Canopy Growth, a major medical marijuana supplier in Canada, told the BBC that while their employees have yet to face difficulties at the US-Canada border, the industry as a whole is seeking more clarity as to how cases will be consistently handled by border officials.
Canadians who use marijuana but make their money elsewhere risk being denied entry as well under the same immigration law.