Cross-border travel has become increasingly risky for those in Canada's cannabis industry lately, but the Trudeau government doesn't think you should be concerned even though some US customs officials are taking a hardline stance against marijuana.
"if you work for the industry, that is grounds for inadmissibility," a US border official warned earlier this week. And he's not just talking about getting turned away for the day. American customs officials can slap Canadians with a lifetime ban if they admit to consuming cannabis or work in the cannabis industry, which is still a strictly prohibited substance under federal law (even though 31 states have legalized medical marijuana and 9 allow recreational use). And since Canada's cannabis industry is rapidly growing, that means the number of lifetime bans could also increase in the months ahead.
But that's unlikely to happen according to Bill Blair, Canada's Minister of Border Security.
"Despite one-in-eight Canadians using cannabis today, 400,000 people move between our two countries every day almost entirely without incident," a spokesperson for Blair's office told The Star.
A number of industry insiders share Blair's confidence.
"It's definitely on people’s radars, but you have to realize there are scores of Canadians coming in and out of the US in this industry on a weekly basis, and the number of incidents we’ve heard about is very minimal," said Chris Walsh, founding editor and vice-president of Denver-based Marijuana Business Daily.
Walsh's view is shared by former BC Health Minister Terry Lake (Liberal), who is now Vice-President of HEXO Corp - the parent company of cannabis producer The Hydropothecary. Lake think there are any real traps set for people in the industry.
"I haven't heard of this being widespread," Lake said. "So I don't think there's any sort of systematic approach by the US border services to target people."
Still, others say there's good reason to be concerned.
"My prediction is, come Oct. 17, it’s going to be a tidal wave of cases," said Len Saunders, a Washington-based lawyer who specializes in border issues.
So unfortunately for members of Canada's cannabis industry, they'll just have to wait and see what happens when they try to head south.