September 22, 2019

By Niall McCrossan, Spoke News

Canadians will be denied entry to the United States for using marijuana legally, working in Canada’s legal marijuana industry and for investing in the industry, according to a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official.

Executive assistant commissioner for the office of field operations, Todd Owen, said last week that the U.S. does not plan on changing its policies to account for the legalization of marijuana, according to a report from Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star.

“We don’t recognize that as a legal business,” said Owen. He said that officers may question a prospective visitor if “other questions lead there,” or “if there is a smell coming from the car,” or if a dog detects marijuana residue.

A total of nine states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 13 states have decriminalized its possession and use. Canada will be legalizing marijuana nationwide on Oct. 17, but with the current policies in place in the U.S., many Canadians are concerned about how they might be affected. Many Canadians currently have shares in cannabis companies, which are publicly traded.

“They’re investing in a completely legal industry in Canada, but it happens to be the cannabis industry …. That person who owns a mutual fund and maybe doesn’t even know where their money is going, are they going to be covered as well?” asked Canadian Drug Policy Coalition senior analyst Scott Bernstein. Bernstein believes that the Canadian government should negotiate with the U.S. to secure entry for both workers and investors; however, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has since commented, stating that he does not think he has the right to press the U.S. on its admission policy.

At this time, an admission of past drug use is grounds for a lifetime ban from the U.S., but those who are banned can apply for waivers.

Many Canadians require medicinal marijuana for various uses and these U.S. policies are worrying for some people.

Cody Hancock, 24, of Cambridge, Ont., suffers from chronic seizures. After years of trying to find something to combat the seizures, he has finally started using cannabis medicinally and it’s the only thing that helps.

“I think it’s a horrible idea,” Hancock said, emphasizing that he needs medical marijuana to remain functional. “Smoking medical cannabis doesn’t justify who you are as a human being. A lot of people, including me, at first didn’t really understand the concept of medical cannabis. I think there’s a lot of research to be done before any of these laws get passed, but I also feel it’s going to take a while to try and pass those laws, because it’s very discriminating and a lot of people are truly going to be against it.”

This policy might even affect some students as well. The Guelph Centre for Cannabis Research is set to become fully operational in the next two years and will be part of the University of Guelph. Horticultural students will be studying and producing cannabis in the $10 million, two-storey lab and greenhouse. Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agricultural College, believes that the legalization of recreational cannabis will normalize the product.

“We view this as just an expansion of the agriculture and food sector,” he told the Toronto Star. “And so we view it very positively in that respect. And our involvement has been with an industry that is very serious (and) wants to employ science.”

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