Marijuana Laws and Crossing the Border

Published: December 21, 2018.
Written by: Stephanie - Destination Specialist, Toronto

Now that Marijuana is becoming legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018, what does that mean for Canadian travellers looking to head to the U.S. en-route to the South Pacific?  The short answer is not to bring marijuana with you (or back in through the U.S. when returning home).

Here are some things to consider when travelling, or stopping through, the United States once cannabis becomes legal:

  1. What happens when you admit to having used pot (currently or in the past)?  As cannabis is illegal in America, guards at the border do have the right to question visitors about drug use, cannabis investments or employment in a marijuana-related industry such as a medical centre.  Answer the questions as honestly as you can, make sure you aren’t carrying any pot with you, and know that it is possible to still be banned from entering the United States if you admit to using the drug recreationally.  In rare instances, you may be blocked from entering the U.S. indefinitely (you’d then have to apply to get the permanent ban lifted in five years’ time and this could come at a costly waiver expense).
  2. Factor in extra time before you head on your onward flight: For Canadian travellers, this could mean you may need to expect to be spending a bit more time at the airport security booths answering marijuana-related and pot-use questions.  Your Destination Specialist, when finalizing your flight details, will ensure there is a sufficient amount of time between your flight from Canada to the U.S. and your onward flight from the U.S. to the South Pacific, should any border delays crop up.
  3. You can avoid answering questions related to cannabis: Lying to border guards can make you inadmissible.  And while border guards cannot force you to take a lie-detector test, or even a drug test for that matter, you can opt to decline to answer any pot-related questions.  This might get you turned away—but you won’t be banned permanently from entering the country.  It is easier, of course, to withdraw your application, rather than become banned; however, this in turn can make things difficult when you have an onward flight to board.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and may not apply to everyone.  For any personal questions about your own travel situation or needs, we recommend speaking with an American immigration legal attorney.  The Canadian government also has information on its website on cannabis and international travel.

For further information on questions you may receive about marijuana past use please visit the Canadian government’s travel warnings.

Written by: Stephanie (Destination Specialist)

Contact Downunder Travel today on how we can help you plan a seamless travel experience.

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