Illustration by James the Stanton / @gnartoons

Illustration by James the Stanton / @gnartoons

Border Patrol Begins Barring Canadians Working in Legal Cannabis

The U.S. has started categorizing some marijuana industry workers as “drug traffickers” and banned them for life.

Reports are starting to come in from our friends up north that folks who are honest with U.S. border guards about their ties to Canada’s completely legal cannabis industry are being denied entry to this country, accused of aiding or otherwise assisting the “drug trade” in America. According to The Star Vancouver, many have been banned from the States for life. “In addition to those who have used marijuana, Canadians who are involved with the cannabis economy have been labeled ‘inadmissible because they are considered to be living off the profits of the drug trade,’ ” the article explains.

Apart from Idaho’s 45-mile stretch, the entirety of the U.S./Canada border is lined with states whose citizens have voted in some type of legal cannabis use, whether recreational or medicinal. But—say it with me—cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, and federal agencies control the imaginary dotted line that separates us.

Jay Evans, CEO of agricultural equipment manufacturer Keirton Inc., was heading into the U.S. with two engineers to discuss the design of a machine for a cannabis company. But because the equipment was explicitly intended to be used in cannabis production, Evans and his colleagues were told, after a six-hour border interview, that they were “drug traffickers” according to U.S. federal law. The three now have lifetime bans.

Canadian investor Sam Znaimer was detained at the border in Blaine, Wash. for almost five hours before he was told that he had been banned for life from entering the States because of his connections to cannabis companies. In a supreme twist of irony, all of his investments are in U.S. cannabis companies.

Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer in Blaine, is representing Znaimer. He told Toronto’s The Globe and Mail that he’s received a dozen calls from anxious cannabis-industry members. “I’m getting panicked phone calls from Canadian companies who are concerned about their staff being denied entry and liability issues, or about themselves because they are senior executives.” His advice? Don’t cross the border. “You might as well be doing business with Pablo Escobar, selling cocaine in the U.S.,” he told to the paper, “especially now that they’re going after business travelers, it’s going to be the Wild West at the border. It’s going to be crazy.”

There are also growing concerns among Canada’s cannabis community over the amount of data that will be collected by the Canadian government when their recreational market opens in October. U.S. border officials could potentially gain access to a Canadian citizen’s cannabis purchasing records and be able to classify them as a “drug abuser,” a legal designation that can be used to deny a person entry. “Any information that goes outside of Canada is up for grabs by local law enforcement,” Heather Black, a former assistant federal privacy commissioner, told Global News. “American authorities are pretty greedy for scooping up information, and they clearly don’t confine themselves to the borders of the United States.”

Of course, all those folks turned away may apply for temporary waivers, which cost only $600 a piece, plus legal fees. They must also submit to a background check and wait for six months. Oh, and they will have to write a “letter of remorse.” Kinda feels like a shakedown. And here I thought legalization was supposed to save us from this sort of shady behavior.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

More in News & Comment

Rape Allegation Against Sen. Joe Fain Divides King County Council

In a recent interview, Councilmember Kathy Lambert blamed Fain’s accuser for the alleged rape. Then Lambert’s colleagues distanced themselves from her comments.

The Seattle City Council introduced legislation to approve the Seattle Police Officer Guild’s tentative agreement with the city on Oct. 15, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Will Seattle’s Police Contract Stand the Test of Reforms?

The Seattle City Council introduced legislation to approve a long-awaited agreement, but not everyone seems satisfied.

Paul Allen, shown in 2015. Courtesy of the Herald
Paul Allen Dead at 65

Microsoft co-founder, developer, and philanthropist routinely struggled with cancer.

Le family attorneys Linda Tran and Jeff Campiche stand on either side of Tommy Le’s parents, Hoai Le and Dieu Ho, at the Dat Lat Quan Vietnamese restaurant in White Center on Oct. 14. Photo by Josh Kelety
‘We’re Not Going to Give Up’: Vietnamese Community Rallies for Tommy Le

Over a year after law enforcement fatally shot the 20-year-old Burien resident, family and community members remain galvanized to seek justice.

County Officials to Use Downtown Seattle Jail as Homeless Shelter

The facility will house between 125 and 150 people, allow for 24-hour access, and likely won’t require that individuals be sober to stay there.

State Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty

All nine justices found the use of capital punishment in Washington state unconstitutional and racially biased.

Incarcerated and Infirmed: How Northwest Detention Center Is Failing Sick Inmates

Inadequate medical care plagues immigrants at the facility, but ICE claims otherwise.

Most Read