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A report released by Civic Science August 28, 2014, shows most Americans support legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana similar to how alcohol is managed. Based on a poll of 453,653 US based adults over the almost the past two years, 58% of respondents support this approach to marijuana, 7% have no strong opinion and only 35% oppose it.

However, telling a border guard that you are travelling into the states to participate in smoking weed legally can prohibit you from entering the US.  Michael Milne of US Customs and Border Protection says “the agency’s policies aren’t changing to accommodate state-level plans to legalize pot.”  He goes on to say “Border guards enforce federal laws — and marijuana is still restricted by the U.S. government — so Canadians who disclose plans to try legal pot south of the border could be turned away — or barred from the U.S. indefinitely.” (CBC News, 2013)  Mason Tvert, Communications Director for the Marijuana Policy Project also says, “Public support for ending marijuana prohibition is at an all-time high, and people can sense that change is inevitable.” (Fox News, 2014)

Although the process of legalizing the use of marijuana in the US is well under way in many states, federally it is still illegal. According to Azmairnin Jadavji, President of  AllCleared, “Entry to the US can be denied if a person has a criminal record that involves narcotics of any kind, including marijuana.”  For individuals with a past criminal record, it’s important to know that a US Entry Waiver is required for legal entry into the United States. Attempting an illegal entry can result in being jailed and property can be confiscated. Apply at least one year prior to an anticipated travel date to ensure border crossing will not be an issue, since obtaining a US entry waiver requires extensive paperwork.

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.

Denied entries are updated instantly in a national database so there are records of any illegal attempts to cross into the US. Having a US Entry Waiver supersedes the authority that the border guards have in preventing a person with a criminal record from entering the US. If you have questions or concerns, are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to accumulate all the necessary documents, or simply want the peace of mind of professionals expediting the US Entry Waiver process for you, contact a Client Advisor for a Free Consultation.