Canadian cannabis investor gets lifetime U.S. entry ban

A Canadian investor travelling to Las Vegas, Nevada, to attend a prominent cannabis conference and tour a new cannabis facility has been issued a lifetime entry ban to the United States, according to an immigration lawyer he consulted.

“He was travelling straight from Vancouver to Vegas. When they found out he was going down to tour the marijuana facility and that he was an investor in marijuana, they gave him a lifetime ban,” said Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer based in the border town of Blaine, Wash., who was consulted by the individual after receiving the ban.

The individual, who invests in a Canadian cannabis business that has an operation in Nevada, received the ban on the morning of Nov. 14, as he travelled to Las Vegas to attend the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, one of the largest gatherings of cannabis industry players. The conference attracted close to 25,000 investors, entrepreneurs, lenders, lobbyists and executives of major U.S. and Canadian licensed cannabis producers, among others.

According to Saunders, who has a transcript of the exchange, a U.S. border guard at Vancouver International Airport’s pre-clearance area asked the individual if he understood that an investment in the U.S. cannabis industry was a “violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act related to controlled substance trafficking.”

“I learned that today,” the individual replied.

The transcript was provided to Saunders by the individual, who does not want to be named as he grapples with how to navigate the complications that come with having a lifetime entry ban to the U.S. “He’s very embarrassed. He’s also shell-shocked. I feel bad for the guy,” Saunders said.

The only way to circumvent a lifetime entry ban to the U.S. is to apply for a temporary waiver that will permit you to cross the border for up to five years. But applying for a waiver is a long and cumbersome process, full of paperwork, according to Saunders.

Concern over how Canadians affiliated with the cannabis industry will be treated when trying to cross the U.S. border has been an ongoing issue as Canada’s legal cannabis industry has expanded.

Cannabis is now federally legal in Canada, and legal for both recreational and medical use in 10 U.S. states, including Nevada, as well as Washington D.C., but remains illegal federally in the U.S.

About a month before cannabis became fully legal in Canada, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP) issued a statement saying that any individual working in the cannabis industry in Canada could be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. They later clarified that statement, confirming that any Canadian traveling to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry, even though he or she works in the industry, would “generally be admissible.”….

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