When crossing the border into the United States, Canadians have been instructed by their government to be honest when answering questions from border security agents. But if you’re associated with the cannabis industry or an avid cannabis user, that might not be such a good idea.
According to a report from Business in Vancouver, Canadian cannabis executives and those open about past marijuana usage are being barred from the U.S. for life. Blaine Immigration lawyer Len Saunders said that a stack of lifetime bans have been issued against cannabis-sector executives in the country, citing at least 12 cases in recent months. Before April, Saunders says he never heard of a cannabis executive receiving lifetime bans just because of their investments.
Saunders, a Canadian who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen, places blame at the feet of new Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair. In interviews, Blair has instructed Canadians to always answer truthfully to U.S. border agent questions. However, that could sadly end with those honest Canadians receiving lifetime bans. Saunders advises citizens to say absolutely nothing. Though this might result in a temporary ban, it’s a preferable alternative in Saunders’ eyes.
“The Canadian government just doesn’t get it. They have a lack of understanding,” Saunders told BIV.
Among those executives penalized for their investments is Sam Znaimer. The Vancouver-based venture capitalist told BIV earlier this year about investing “several” million dollars into 16 different private cannabis companies. Znaimer’s LinkedIn and other internet sources showed his involvement with cannabis companies. In May, Znaimer was stopped while crossing the border and received a lifetime ban.
“I have not been charged with any crime,” Znaimer told BIV. “I have not committed any crime. The things that I do are things that Americans do in the tens of thousands with no repercussions. It is purely because I’m Canadian and I don’t have any of the rights of a U.S. resident or citizen that they can find me to be inadmissible to enter the country.”
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His problem was investing in two U.S.-based cannabis companies, according to Saunders. Associations with U.S.-based cannabis companies, including owning U.S real estate and leasing it to marijuana companies, could result in a lifetime ban for Canadians. Saunders advises to invest only in Canadian cannabis companies to stay safe.
“Divest from any U.S. cannabis company or stop travelling to the U.S. Otherwise, you’re playing with fire,” Saunders said.