Congressman wants answers on US border policy regarding legal cannabis workers

Sep 20 2018, 9:19 pm

With Canada set to legalize recreational cannabis in less than a month, one US congressman is hoping to clear the air when it comes to those from other countries with connections to the cannabis industry attempting to enter the US.

In a letter to US Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen, congressman Luis Correa asks the DHS to develop “clear guidance concerning the entry… of foreign nationals with authorized work visas who are associated with the cannabis industry.”

Correa writes that his primary concern is that the DHS is “unnecessarily and disproportionally penalizing non-citizens who are engaged in lawful business activities.”

The letter comes after a report was released last week, in which a senior official overseeing US border operations told Politico that Canadians who smoke weed, work in the cannabis industry, or are investing in the sector, may risk a lifetime ban on travel to the US.

The report stated that the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agency will continue to apply long-standing American federal laws and regulations that treat cannabis as a controlled substance, and will treat participants in the cannabis industry as drug traffickers, both of which are inadmissible into the country.

But given Canada’s close proximity and “close trading ties” with the US, “there is significant likelihood that some Canadian nationals travelling to the United States will be connected to the cannabis industry,” writes Correa. “Therefore, I believe that an immediate clarification of DHS’ admission policies is critical.

Correa “strongly urges” the DHS to clarify its policies and procedures at US ports of entry, “to help ensure transparency” of such processes.

“The role that CBP plays in processing thousands of foreign nationals who come to the US to conduct business is critical not only to the success of our economy, but also the safety and security of the American people.”

Correa then lists a number of questions he has surrounding the process and requests that the DHS respond with answers. These include:

  • What policy or guidance does DHS use to evaluate and determine that an authorized foreign national is associated with the cannabis industry?
  • How does the DHS evaluate and determine that secondary questioning of an authorized foreign national associated with the cannabis industry is appropriate, even if the individual has no intent to distribute or sell cannabis and has no prior convictions for cannabis-related offences?
  • What police or guidance does DHS utilize to determine what categories of businesses or persons within the cannabis industry should undergo additional questioning?
  • Please provide any policy or guidance by which DHS evaluates and determines that a permanent ban from the US and/or a confiscation of trusted-traveller credentials is justified for authorized foreign nationals in the cannabis industry.
  • What public policy is being advanced by DHS now that cannabis is legal in some way in half the states in the United States?

The congressman has requested that the DHS respond to him with answers by October 1.

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