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Canadian Mayor: US Is Turning Away Pot-Smokers at Border

Saskatchewan mayor describes a 'couple of cases,' fears there will be more
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2018 12:19 PM CDT
This Aug. 2, 2017 file photo shows the US border crossing between Vermont and Quebec at Beecher Falls, Vt.   (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

(Newser) – And it's happening. Less than two weeks after the legalization of recreational marijuana across Canada brought news that US border officials would bar pot-smoking Canucks from heading south, the first Canadians have been turned away, reports the CBC. "It is a fairly serious concern," says Mayor Roy Ludwig of Estevan, Saskatchewan, 10 miles north of a North Dakota border crossing. Ludwig says several area residents have been questioned by US officials about past cannabis use. He describes "a couple of cases" where residents have been turned away, including one involving a man who admitted to smoking marijuana 30 years ago (when it wasn't legal), "thinking it was amusing," per Global News. "He was then taken in, had his vehicle searched, and was turned away."

"As long as they are not under the influence should they be penalized for something that is legal in their country?" Ludwig asks. "It seems a little harsh." US Customs and Border Protection doesn't agree. A rep tells NPR the agency is simply enforcing federal law deeming marijuana a controlled substance. The rep adds there hasn't been "a noticeable spike" in Canadians turned away at the border this year, though Ludwig worries that could change. "Are they going to have to lie? I hope it doesn't come to that," he says. A Toronto immigration lawyer tells the CBC his advice: Don't lie. Rather than risk a permanent ban from the US for lying to agents, Canadians who partake should refrain from answering marijuana questions. They may not get into the US, but at least they won't get into trouble. (An illegal toke came an hour into legalization.)

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