Canadians are being denied entry into the United States, with some receiving lifetime bans, after attempting to cross into the U.S. to tend to their cannabis investments.
An estimated 400,000 Canadians cross the Canada-U.S. border every day. With the continuing legalization of cannabis in U.S. states and the impending legalization in Canada, interest in cannabis businesses is growing, However, some cannabis investors showing an interest in cannabis are being banned from entering the U.S. Canadians have reportedly been banned or denied entry for merely admitting that they have smoked a joint.
In May, Vancouver venture capitalist Sam Znaimer was interrogated for four hours at the Pacific Highway crossing and eventually released, but was subsequently banned from the U.S. “That particular day, I came to the border, I was asked some perfunctory questions, but immediately referred to secondary inspection,” Znaimer said. “It was clear this was entirely because I am an investor in cannabis companies,” Znaimer said. “I was never asked about my personal consumption.”
While no one was made available for an interview, an emailed response from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman to the Vancouver Sun stated said the agency enforces the laws of the United States.
“Although medical and recreational marijuana are legal in some U.S. states and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana remain illegal under U.S. federal law,” wrote Jason Givens. “[The agency’s] enforcement of the law will remain unchanged.”
“Consequently, crossing the border with marijuana is prohibited and could result in fines, apprehension, or both.”
Washington state lawyer Len Saunder said he is seeing cases regarding potential cannabis investors a couple times a week now. “I see either simple denied entries or I see lifetime bans.” He said cases started cropping up a couple of months ago zeroing in on business travelers. he advises Canadian business people to “either get out of the marijuana business or stop travelling to the U.S.”
“I believe this was intended to put a chill on investors and business travelers from outside of the U.S.,” Znaimer said. He plans to appeal with Customs and Border Protection, but is reconsidering investing with U.S. cannabis companies. “In my case, it has done that very successfully.”