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CBP Clarifies Position on Marijuana, Entering the U.S.

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Finding out which laws and regulations apply in the U.S. and especially when crossing the U.S. border sometimes is a complex matter. Case in point: the marijuana industry is legal in certain U.S. States such as Colorado or California but is illegal as per federal law. So what happens when a marijuana industry official enters the U.S. by way of, say, San Francisco International airport?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) in October 2018 issued a statement clarifying its position on the interplay of marijuana and international travelers entering the United States.

According to the statement, “Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and [in some foreign countries, such as] Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law. Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.”

Furthermore, “… any arriving [foreigner] who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.”

Critically, the statement adds: “A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry [emphasis added] will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.” It likely follows that any foreigner traveling to the U.S. “for reasons related to the marijuana industry” whatsoever “may be deemed inadmissible”, wherever he/she comes from.

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