That’s the blunt message from the United States to Canadians who have ever used marijuana recreationally. It comes on the eve of legalization north of the border and a StatsCan estimate of more than five million Canadians who will buy pot legally between Wednesday and the end of the year.
For months, Canadians had sought clarification on how visitors might be treated at the border. In late-September, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection responded with an unambiguous public statement: anyone even admitting to having toked up at some point in their life “is inadmissible to the United States.”
Lifelong greenhouse farmer Cole Cacciavillani said he’s never consumed pot, but he’s the co-founder of Leamington’s Aphria Inc., a licensed and government-regulated producer of cannabis products, and until just days ago he was at risk of being banned from the U.S.
This week, U.S federal authorities quietly tweaked a rule stating that anyone involved in the marijuana industry, including Aphria’s investors and its almost 500 workers, were to be treated no differently than drug traffickers.
On Wednesday, the agency’s September statement was “updated” to now permit those involved professionally in Canada’s legal marijuana industry to enter the U.S., but only for “reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry,” and only for those who have never tried the product.
Despite what the law will soon be north of the border, and despite the growing number of states south of the border deciding to also legalize marijuana, “the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law,” according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A majority of U.S. states — 31, as well as Washington D.C. — have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, but American federal law still lumps pot in the same category as heroin or crack.
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