Have you Ever Smoked Pot Before? Don’t Tell a U.S. Border Guard, It Could Get You Banned From Entering
Having to deal with border security is a necessary measure to keep countries safe from people wanting to do harm entering. The question is being raised of what harm actually means. Jessica Goldstein was trying to enter the states for a concert and admitted that she’d smoked weed before to a border guard. Now she’s banned from entering the states.
Jessica’s Lawyer, Len Saunders cited he has many more cases like Jess’s.
“Usually it’s someone younger, maybe in their early 20s,” he said. “They’re going to a music festival in the U.S. — maybe they have a marijuana sticker on the back of their car or they have a wallet that has a marijuana leaf on it. It’s always something that triggers that question. It’s usually something very minor which then kind of snowballs into more of a problem.”
Considering marijuana is legal in Washington state, where Jessica tried to enter, this ban seems like a conflict of interest. The problem stems from the federal level, in which cannabis is still very illegal.
What to do if You’re Asked?
Len Saunder’s shares a bit of insight on a case that he’s becoming extremely familiar with.
“To begin with, as an attorney I don’t encourage people to lie,” Saunders said. “But then I tell people you’re under no obligation to answer that question. It’s not a question that’s relevant for an entry. Yes, if you’ve been charged with marijuana possession or convicted or if they find marijuana on you, I think that’s a fair question for them to ask. But just a random question on whether you’ve used marijuana in the past, I don’t think it’s their business.
“So I tell individuals, you can just say, ‘I don’t answer that question, none of your business’ or just withdraw your application for entry and return to Canada. Because it can’t get any worse than being banned for life if you answer ‘yes.’”
Change for the Future
Washington State Congresswoman Suzan DelBene is on a committee that overlooks border security for her state. She sees this as an unfortunate side effect of improper law making to Canadian Citizens.
“We should always strive to find the balance of protecting our communities from real security risks and treating our neighbours to the north with the respect they deserve,” she said.
Until this is dealt with at a federal level, problems and court cases will keep forming that raise eyebrows.
Jessica Goldstein is now facing a $1000 waiver to enter the U.S. again and has admitted the whole event has left her with grief. ” I was treated like a criminal for telling the truth.” Something no one should fear or face with such a harmless crime that is legal in the state she was entering
One can only hope that with pending legalization in Canada and the widespread acceptance of if America as a positive. If anything this can be served as a lesson for future governments.