Canadian pot smokers barred for life from entering the U.S.

Sep 30, 2016

Canada's public safety minister says he will push the United States to change some of its border policies when it comes to marijuana. Some Canadians have been barred for life from entering the U.S. after admitting to American border guards that they have smoked marijuana in the past.

It's a policy that doesn't appear to be enforced along the entire border, but does happen in some pockets.
It happened to 46-year-old Ted Gilliat when he crossed from British Columbia into Washington state. When he admitted to smoking pot recreationally in the past, he was denied entry and questioned for hours by American border guards. He has also been barred from the U.S. for life.   

In Gilliat's case, there was history. He had been caught in 2005 with some marijuana while trying to cross the the border on a bicycle. At that time, he was turned back, with no fines or prosecution.

Canadian lawyer Len Saunders says he has had a couple of dozen cases and expects more as Canada prepares to legalize pot.

Canada's public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, calls the U.S. border policy ludicrous and says he will raise it with officials in Washington and let them know about Ottawa's plans to legalize marijuana.

"We will be, obviously, pointing out to the Americans, the change in the Canadian legal regime, which actually mirrors, in some respects, changes that have been made in a number of states in the United States," said Goodale.

Goodale says he believes Canada's coming policy will be more effective in keeping pot out of the hands of children and the profits out of the hands of organized crime. He also says it is ironic that marijuana use is already legal in several U.S. states.

As for those who may be questioned at the border, they could admit to pot use or refuse to answer the question, both of which would likely result in refused entry.