Canadians who work for, or have connections to, the cannabis industry are running into problems at the U.S. border, including lifetime travel bans.
Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer based in Blaine, Wash., says he’s received many calls from businesses who tried to travel to the U.S. and were either turned away or banned. He says that’s been accompanied by a spike in applications for waivers.
“It used to be that almost all my waiver connections were criminal convictions. Now I would say probably 25 per cent of my waivers, where it used to be one or two per cent, are waivers where people have run into problems because of marijuana,” he said. “When I first started practicing in Blaine 15 years ago, I’d maybe get one or two cases a year, and when they legalized it in Washington state… my cases went up to one or two a month. When Trudeau started legalizing marijuana… my cases went up to one or two a week. So it’s a huge growth industry for immigration lawyers.”
The laws could also pose problems for lawyers, according to Vancouver-based criminal defence attorney Kyla Lee.
“I defend people who are charged with drug related offences and do interviews about the legalization of cannabis and this is something theoretically they could say I make money off it and so therefore I’m denied entry,” she said. “I am hopeful that this is an issue that the border is going to have to come to accommodate.”
Lee recommends anyone who is concerned about entering the U.S. should consult a U.S. immigration lawyer and get a legal opinion letter to explain why they don’t meet any of the criteria that may bar them from entering.
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Kyla Lee - Vancouver Criminal Lawyer
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer Kyla Lee is available to give interviews on all variety of criminal law topics, including drunk driving rulings and Immediate Roadside Prohibition legislation. Kyla Lee has appeared on Global BC, CBC, in the Vancouver Sun, and other media throughout BC. She is a leader in developments in drinking and driving law in British Columbia.