CBP Statement On Canada’s Legalization Of Marijuana and Crossing The Border

UPDATED: 10/09/2018

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the laws of the United States and U.S. laws will not change following Canada’s legalization of marijuana. Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws. Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law. Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.

US Customs and Border Protection

CBP officers are thoroughly trained on admissibility factors and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which broadly governs the admissibility of travelers into the United States.  Determinations about admissibility and whether any regulatory or criminal enforcement is appropriate are made by a CBP officer based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time.

Generally, any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.

A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.

CBP officers are the nation’s first line of defense in preventing the illegal importation of narcotics, including marijuana. U.S. federal law prohibits the importation of marijuana and CBP officers will continue to enforce that law.

Border Officials: Canadians Involved In Legal Marijuana Industry To Be Barred Entry To The United States

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A top official from the US Customs and Border Patrol has affirmed that the agency will enforce a federal policy prohibiting those involved with the Canadian marijuana industry from entering the United States.

Section 212 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act states that foreigners are ineligible to enter the US if they are “determined to be a drug abuser” or if they have assisted in the trafficking of an illicit substance. A US Custom representative told Politico that the agency is broadly interpreting the statute to include those who work or have financially invested in Canada’s legal marijuana industry, or who acknowledge personal use of the substance.

Canada legalized the regulated production and distribution of medical cannabis nearly two decades ago. In June of this year, Canadian lawmakers gave final approval to separate legislation regulating the adult use marijuana market. The new law takes effect on October 17, 2018.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano strongly criticized the US enforcement policy, stating: “This is an irrational and discriminatory policy that unduly penalizes tens of thousands of Canadians who pose no health or safety risk to the United States. At a time when public opinion and the culture surrounding marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the United States but around the world, it is inane for US border officials to maintain such a draconian and backward-looking policy.”


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org or NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, at (202) 483-5500.