How does the US view marijuana possession?
Although Canada generally considers a small amount of marijuana (less than 30 grams) a summary offence, for the US government it is considered serious. Even though some US States have legalized recreational or medical marijuana, the federal government continues to view possession as a crime. Border officials refer to federal law, not the laws of the state you are entering.
There is also no exemption as a petty offence. Drug offences are not considered petty offences by the United States.
Other reasons you might be turned away
In addition to a marijuana possession conviction, there are other reasons you could be turned away:
Conditional or absolute discharge: A discharge is a finding of guilt even though the record will eventually disappear. It is not necessary for you to have a criminal record. The US government will bar you if they can reasonably believe that you committed an illegal act. Another problem is that when your record disappears, it won’t necessarily disappear from the records of the US. The US will not seal your record after the one- or three- year period.
Admitting to marijuana use: When you enter the United States you can be pulled over or pulled aside for a random search or questioning. If they turn up things like magazines, T-shirts or paraphernalia, they might ask you if you use marijuana. Even if you haven’t been convicted of marijuana possession, you can be turned away.
Having marijuana or marijuana residue: Often border guards can turn up residue or joints that were forgotten by the owner or dropped by friends. If they do find marijuana you can be charged.
What can you do?
If you have any reason to believe that there might be residue in your car, you might want to use another method of transportation.
If you are asked about marijuana use, most lawyers who have spoken publicly on this issue are recommending that you simply keep your mouth shut. If you do this you will be turned back, but you can probably return without a waiver. If you do admit to it, you’ve basically admitted to a criminal offence in which case, you will need to get a waiver.
If you have a marijuana conviction or discharge on your record, you will need to get a US Entry Waiver. Any Canadian denied entry to the US will also need a waiver. A US Entry Waiver is granted up to five years and allows you to travel freely.
To learn more about the US Entry Waiver and find out if you need one, contact us today at 1-866-972-7366.
Download our Marijuana Legalization Intelligence Report
Our Marijuana Legalization Report takes an in-depth look at the issues facing Canada with the legalization of marijuana, including the problem facing thousands of Canadians who have been convicted of simple possession. By submitting your email and downloading the resource, you agree to receive our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.