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.

Congressional Committee Approves Legislation To Expand Pool Of Federally Licensed Marijuana Growers

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Members of the US House Judiciary Committee last week voted in favor of legislation, HR 5634: The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate FDA-approved clinical trials involving whole-plant cannabis. The Act mandates the federal government to license multiple providers of research-grade marijuana, among other changes.

The vote marks the first time that lawmakers have ever decided in favor of easing existing federal restrictions which limit investigators’ ability to clinically study marijuana in a manner similar to other controlled substances. The measure now awaits further action on the House floor.

Under current US policy, investigators can only administer cannabis provided by the University of Mississippi during the course of an FDA-approved trial. However, many of those familiar with their product have criticized its quality, opining that it possesses subpar potency, is often poorly manicured, and that it does not accurately reflect the wide variety of cannabis products and strains available to consumers.

In 2016, the US Drug Enforcement Administration amended its regulations to permit additional applicants to seek federal licensure to grow marijuana for use in clinical research. However, to date, neither the DEA nor the Justice Department have taken action on over two-dozen pending applications. Passage of HR 5634 would mandate federal agencies approve at least two new applicants within a year’s time.

This week, clinical investigators with the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego received federal permission to import cannabis products manufactured in Canada for use in human trials. The products, which are high in cannabidiol and low in THC, are unavailable from the University of Mississippi program, which currently provides only six distinct cannabis strains – none of which contain more than 0.08 percent CBD.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org or NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, at (202) 483-5500. Read NORML’s op-ed on the pending legislation, “The federal government must stop stifling medical marijuana research.”

Delaware Governor Signs Marijuana Expungement Bill Into Law

DELAWARE: Democrat Gov. John Carney has signed legislation into law vacating past, low-level marijuana convictions.

Senate Bill 197, which took immediate effect, “provides mandatory expungement eligibility to individuals who were convicted of the possession [of one ounce or less], use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses.”

State lawmakers in 2015 enacted legislation reducing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis from a criminal act to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine only – no arrest, and no criminal record.

To be eligible for expungement under the new law, the defendant must have no other criminal convictions on their record.

In recent years, lawmakers in several states – including MassachusettsMarylandOregon, and Rhode Island – have enacted similar expungement laws following the passage of either marijuana decriminalization or legalization. In California, legislation providing for mandatory expungement of past marijuana convictions is awaiting the Governor’s signature. An estimated 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the proposed California law.

According to a nationwide poll released in June, 73 percent of Americans support the enactment of legislation “to automatically seal the records of individuals convicted of crimes related to the possession of marijuana.”

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit Delaware NORML.

New Bill Builds Bipartisan Momentum Behind Federal Marijuana Reform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), along with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), introduced bipartisan legislation to evaluate states’ marijuana policies. The Marijuana Data Collection Act directs the National Academy of Sciences to create a federally recognized report on state-level marijuana legalization policies, including both medical and non-medical use, and their effects on public health, safety, the economy, the criminal justice system, and more. The information compiled in the report would provide scientific data and statistics on the impact of various marijuana policies on our nation.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also received the NORML Rufus King Sr. Public Leadership Award for her outstanding public leadership in marijuana law reform. The award was presented at the NORML Congressional lobby day, where activists advocate for federal marijuana reforms on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that has ruined people’s lives, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. In 2016 alone, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Our laws must be informed by facts — not emotion, manufactured stigma and myths. Our bipartisan legislation, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, will lay the groundwork for real reform by producing an objective, evidence-based report on current marijuana laws that exist in 31 states across the country, and their impact on our communities.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Rep. Carlos Curbelo

“Federal lawmakers have long ignored the issues of our outdated federal marijuana policy,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said.“In recent years, however, voters across the country – including in my home state of Florida and overwhelmingly in my district – have called for modernized marijuana policies in their states. This bill takes a commonsense step toward allowing unbiased research into the impacts that marijuana has had in states that have chosen to legally regulate it. I am proud to support the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act to ensure the federal government is no longer an obstacle to legal, regulated marijuana and starts being part of the discussion for a new federal policy.”

Justin Strekal, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Political Director, said: “We appreciate Representative Gabbard for her tremendous leadership in the fight to reform our nation’s failed policy of prohibition. From emphasizing that marijuana policy be evidence-based, to tasking the National Academies with this important work, to her role as a lead on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, Rep. Gabbard has been one of the most prominent voices in calling for a new sensible approach to cannabis.”

On the House Floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that’s wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for non-violent marijuana charges. Our outdated marijuana policies have turned everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously, and torn families apart – all for a substance that’s proven to be far less harmful and dangerous than alcohol.

“Our federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdated myths. However, the fact that marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug –the same category as heroin and cocaine – restricts and even discourages scientific research on marijuana, limiting our ability to create science-based policies. I’ll be introducing the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act with my colleague Congressman Carlos Curbelo so that we can create a study to set the record straight. Our bill would authorize a non-partisan, evidence-based report that analyzes current marijuana policies across the country, and their effects on our communities. I urge my colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation.”

Background: The Marijuana Data Collection Act would:

  • Require data collection and study with regard to the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.
  • Require the Secretary of HHS to coordinate with the DOJ, DOL, and States (to the greatest extent possible) and direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to publish a biennial study on the health, safety, and economic effects of state legalized marijuana programs.
  • The Report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data.

As part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long called for sensible marijuana policies. She is the lead Democratic co-sponsor of H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list. She has called for closing the gaps between federal and state law to resolve current contradictions and provide legally abiding marijuana businesses with clear access to financial services. She is also a cosponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act (H.R. 4815) to reform unjust federal marijuana laws and empower minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 2215) to allow equal banking access and financial services for marijuana-related businesses, the RESPECT resolution (H.Res. 943) to encourage equity in the marijuana industry, and more.

VA Policy On Medical Marijuana And Veterans

 The VA Medical Cannabis Act of 2018 is not yet the law of the land. So what is the official VA policy on veterans using cannabis?

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: As more states consider authorizing the medical use of marijuana, there has been a growing number of voices among the veteran community urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its’ policies on medical cannabis.

These voices include Representative Phil Roe (R) of Tennessee and Representative Tim Walz (D) of Minnesota, who have introduced House Resolution 5520, The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

H.R. 5520 would, if passed, authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to do medical marijuana research. Specifically, Congress.gov says the bill, “authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of certain forms of cannabis and cannabis delivery for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.”

As of June 2018, that legislation has been introduced only, but the fact that a bipartisan effort to create this policy happened at all is an indicator that American society is ready to discuss an end to the prohibition of cannabis, or at a minimum that it’s time to approve marijuana and hemp plant derivatives such as Cannabidiol (aka CBD) for use as medicine.

The VA Medical Cannabis Act of 2018 is not yet the law of the land. So what is the official VA policy on veterans using cannabis?

Official Defense Department Policy On Marijuana

The United States Department of Defense, which is responsible for policy for the United States Military, is NOT part of this discussion about medical marijuana. VA policy on the use of cannabis by the veteran population is not connected with the official DoD policies.

The Department of Defense maintains its’ marijuana prohibition on currently serving military members, and military recruiters are required to use discretion when interviewing potential new recruits about possible drug use prior to military service.

At one time, the recreational use of marijuana or its’ derivatives could be grounds for rejecting a new recruit. However, recruiters do not have to bar the enlistment of those with minor pot experimentation at the time of this writing. Instead, the recruiter may, at his or her discretion, apply for a waiver for such recruits.

All new recruits are advised that there is a zero tolerance for any illegal substance abuse issues in the military. Those who test positive for illegal drugs or illegally used prescription drugs are subject to punishment and possible discharge from the military.

Department Of Veterans Affairs Policy On Medical Marijuana

The issues facing veterans who use pot while seeking treatment from the VA are more complex. Those who use marijuana to relieve symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other service-connected medical issues may be afraid to discuss this with a VA care provider out of fear that their VA benefits may be in jeopardy for doing so.

What is the reality? The VA official site states clearly that any substance that is illegal on the federal level is NOT permitted to be used, recommended, prescribed, or endorsed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, up to and including the recommendation that veterans use pot to alleviate symptoms or pain.

Under the policies active at the time of this writing, any substance listed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule One controlled substance are subject to this prohibition at the VA level.

As more states consider authorizing the medical use of marijuana, there has been a growing number of voices among the veteran community urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its’ policies on medical cannabis.

These voices include Representative Phil Roe (R) of Tennessee and Representative Tim Walz (D) of Minnesota, who have introduced House Resolution 5520, The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

H.R. 5520 would, if passed, authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to do medical marijuana research. Specifically, Congress.gov says the bill, “authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of certain forms of cannabis and cannabis delivery for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Oklahoma Becomes 31st State To Legalize Medical Marijuana Access

OKLAHOMA: A majority of Oklahomans voted on Tuesday to enact State Question 788 – a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to patients who may benefit from it. Oklahoma is the 31st state to legalize and regulate the use of medical cannabis under state law.

State Question 788 permits licensed medical marijuana patients to cultivate up to six mature plants and to possess personal use quantities of marijuana flowers, edibles, or infused concentrates. It also establishes a regulatory framework for the retail production and dispensing of medical cannabis at licensed facilities. Under the act, the state Department of Health has a 30-day timeline in which to establish an online license application process for eligible patients.

Oklahoma voters endorsed the plan despite organized opposition from law enforcement, political leaders, and other groups. Opponents of the measure spent an estimated $500,000 in the final week of the campaign on an advertising blitz that falsely claimed that “SQ 788 was not about medical marijuana,” a mischaracterization that was previously determined to be purposely misleading by the state Supreme Court.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who publicly opposed SQ 788, said that she intends to call lawmakers back for a special session to address the law’s implementation and to consider changes to some of its provisions.

Under existing Oklahoma laws, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense – punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis cultivation or sales may be punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this month, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people – the highest rate in the United States.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Utah: Medical Access Initiative Certified For November Ballot

UTAH: State regulators have certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced last week that proponents had gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters – far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

Both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

Voters in Oklahoma will also decide on a medical access initiative in a special election on Tuesday, June 26. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788, according to polling data reported last week.

Voters in two other states – Michigan and Missouri – will also decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

DEA: Marijuana Seizures Fell Nearly 40 Percent In 2017

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops in the United States fell nearly 40 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to annual data compiled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to figures published in the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, the agency and its law enforcement partners confiscated an estimated 3.38 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2017. This total represents a 37 percent decrease from the agency’s 2016 totals, when it eradicated some 5.34 million plants.

As in past years, the majority of seizures nationwide (72 percent) took place in California, where law enforcement seized and estimated 2.45 million plants. That total was 35 percent lower than in 2016, when law enforcement confiscated an estimated 3.78 million plants. California voters in November 2016 legalized adult use marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales.

Law enforcement seized 472,927 plants in Kentucky (down 15 percent from 2016), 74,599 plants in West Virginia (down 40 percent), 62,323 plants in Arkansas (up 93 percent), 60,658 plants in Indiana (up five percent), and 34,646 plants in Tennessee (down 73 percent).

The agency and its partners reported making 4,502 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a 20 percent decline from 2016.

The DEA also reported seizing some $20.5 million in assets during their confiscation efforts – a 60 percent reduction from the previous year.

Full data from the DEA’s 2017 report, as well as past years’ reports, are available online. For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

OPINION: Marijuana Legislation In New Jersey

By: Jamel Holley, NJ Assemblyman

Led by our dynamic Union County State Senator, Nick Scutari, New Jersey is poised at the brink of an era ready for common sense, modern, post-prohibition style drug policy and the legalization of marijuana.

Admittedly, I was skeptical during the early stages of this discussion, concerned about the well being of my constituents. However, after listening to the perspectives of many, learning even more about the destruction done to my community, understanding how the criminal justice system has excessively injured so many young people —hearing from every side— I’m ready to say drug laws and policies have got to change. I commit to leading the charge supporting the legalization of recreational adult use of marijuana in New Jersey and implementing a common sense approach to regulation, through appropriate legislation and licensing.

Though a number of my respected peers in the Legislature have expressed some skepticism and concern, I whole heartily believe that the people of New Jersey are prepared to break ground on a new era of responsible drug policy. I believe that the theories that marijuana is a social ill akin to our deadly opioid crisis do not hold water. Therefore, it is time to move beyond spotty, ineffectual, Rockefeller-style drug policy.

Under the current laws, the State of NJ spends around $127 million per year on enforcement of the draconian marijuana policies that have negatively impacted the lives of so many families. For far too long, young people – minority young people in particular – have been systematically held back with respect to student loan eligibility, job placement, and general advancement in life due to the outdated drug policies that I seek to overturn. Regressive fine structures have placed nonviolent young people in vicious cycles of institutional poverty, by labeling them as criminals —this over a substance yielding no body counts, as opposed to the high rates of death from both tobacco use and alcohol, which are legal and regulated.

Aside from the clear and undeniable relief from the disproportionately punitive nature of the status quo drug laws and the current inappropriate scheduling of cannabis, the positive effects of legalizing are plentiful. When this legislation passes, we will be able to focus on developing an industry that will generate much needed revenue. These funds can be used for a number of different items; one added benefit to additional revenues is funding for a comprehensive mental health program.

When legalized, we will no longer have large sets of talented youths forgoing opportunity and the ability to contribute to society because we are bleeding them dry with fines. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to what is going on here. It is time to give these men and women the chance to expunge these low level non-violent crimes and give them the ability to contribute to society.

New Jersey has a unique opportunity to set the standard for marijuana regulation nationwide. Other States will begin to look to us to see how we regulate this industry. Using some of the fallbacks and successes from other States, we can develop a plan that serves all New Jerseyans to make this mutually beneficial.

As a legislator, I have always felt that progress is the name of the game. Senator Scutari has effectively demonstrated the case for legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Together, we know New Jersey is ready to stop taking policy cues from the movie Reefer Madness (circa 1936), along with other racist films that date to the 1930s. Twenty-first century New Jersey is ready to increase industry and reduce predatory fine structures. New Jersey is ready to enforce laws that are more pressing, generating revenue for things that matter, like affordable pre-school and higher education, progressive leave policies, and so many other, important matters that require more capital than can be gained from chipping away at the most financially disenfranchised in our state. New Jersey is prepared for sensible drug policies and all the healing and opportunity that they can afford.

Harris Cosponsors Landmark Bill To End Federal Prohibition Of Marijuana

Marijuana Justice Act Seeks To Reverse Decades Of Policy That Has Disproportionately Impacted Communities Of Color, Low-Income Communities

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) today became the fourth U.S. senator to cosponsor Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) landmark bill to end the federal prohibition on marijuana. The Marijuana Justice Act would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, making it legal at the federal level. Harris announced her support of the bill in a video.

“Right now in this country people are being arrested, being prosecuted, and end up spending time in jail or prison all because of their use of a drug that otherwise should be considered legal,” Senator Harris said. “Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. I know this as a former prosecutor and I know it as a senator.”

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) became the first Senator to cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act last year, followed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in February, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in April. In addition to these cosponsors, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives earlier this year that has 35 cosponsors.

In addition to removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances, the bill would incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income individuals and/or people of color. The bill is retroactive and would apply to those already serving time behind bars for marijuana-related offenses, providing for a judge’s review of marijuana sentences.

Specifically, the Marijuana Justice Act will:

  • Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, making it legal at the federal level;
  • Incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws if marijuana in the state is illegal and the state disproportionately arrests or incarcerates low-income individuals or people of color for marijuana-related offenses;
  • Automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes;
  • Allow an individual currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana use or possession crimes to petition a court for a resentencing;
  • Create a community reinvestment fund to reinvest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs and allow those funds to be invested in the following programs:
    • Job training;
    • Reentry services;
    • Expenses related to the expungement of convictions;
    • Public libraries;
    • Community centers;
    • Programs and opportunities dedicated to youth; and
    • Health education