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Customs revises policy permitting Canadian marijuana workers into U.S. ahead of legalization

October 11, 2018

Canadians involved in the nation’s legal marijuana industry will not be automatically barred from entering the United States after all, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified.

“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.,” the border agency said in a statement Tuesday.

Marijuana legalization is scheduled to take effect in Canada starting Oct. 17.

The U.S. clarification came after a top official suggested Canadian marijuana industry workers may be barred from entering the U.S.

Immigration law allows the U.S. to deny entry to anyone who “is or has been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance,” including marijuana, meaning Canadians who legally work or invest in the plant may be deemed inadmissible, said Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the CBP’s Office of Field Operations.

“We don’t recognize that as a legal business,” he told Politico last month. “Facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect an individual’s admissibility to the U.S.”

Canadians who profit from legal weed will not be automatically rendered inadmissible, CBP clarified this week, but border officials may still deny entry to individuals who are attempting to visit the U.S. for reasons related to the marijuana industry, the agency said.

Thirty-one states in the U.S. have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes despite a federal prohibition.

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