Could Prime Minister Justin Trudeau be denied entry to the US once he is no longer prime minister for admitting that he has smoked pot?
That scenario is a very real possibility, according Len Saunders, a Canadian who practices immigration law in Blaine, Washington, and noted that cannabis was legalized in that state “about five years ago,” but is still illegal on the federal level.
“The second that Prime Minister Trudeau is no longer prime minister, traveling on a diplomatic passport, he is inadmissible to the United States,” Saunders told the Senate Committee on Natural Security and Defence on Monday.
The reason for this?
“He’s admitted to smoking marijuana as an MP,” said Saunders.
Saunders used the prime minister to drive home his point that, even after legalization, Canadians who admit to smoking marijuana could still face issues when attempting to travel to the US – and could ultimately be deemed inadmissible.
Once cannabis legalization happens in Canada, US border guards will be asking questions on the subject “more frequently because they’re going to know it’s legal,” he explained.
However, Saunders said that travellers should be aware that they don’t have to answer when it comes to whether or not they smoke – or have smoked – pot recreationally.
“I’m trying to warn Canadians,” he continued. “As an attorney, I can’t advocate for people to lie, but what I tell people is ‘this is not a question that you are bound to answer.'”
The worst thing that could happen for refusing to answer the question at the border said Saunders, “is you will be denied entry [in that moment.]”
That said, if someone has been convicted or charged with marijuana use in Canada in the past, then “yes, you have to answer yes. If you have marijuana on you and they ask you, yes, you have to answer yes.”
Being allowed to re-enter the States after being deemed inadmissible is a lengthy and costly process, noted Saunders.
Still, the Canadian government continues to press on with cannabis legalization, albeit with some delays.
Last month, it was announced that the targeted legalization date of July 1, 2018 wouldn’t be met.
Senate leaders agreed to a legislative timetable that will lead to a final vote on Bill C-45, legislation that would legalize and regulate of cannabis, on or before June 7.
“This should give stakeholders, governments, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and other Canadians a timeline for how and when the bill will be ultimately dealt with by the Upper Chamber,” said Sen. Peter Harder, the Government Representative in the Senate.
According to Federal Health Minister Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, “provinces and territories have made it very clear” to the government that “they are going to need eight to 12 weeks for implementation.”
As a result, if one takes into account that a vote wouldn’t happen until around June 7, “you can certainly see that [legalization] won’t be July 2018.”