Cannabis use may be legal in Canada. But if U.S. border guards find out about it, a person could have their Nexus pass taken away or not granted in the first place, secret instructions issued to managers at U.S. border posts say.
“If an alien admits to the use of marijuana (post legalization) he or she is technically admissible to the U.S., but would not be eligible for a Trusted Traveller Program,” the instructions say.
The instructions were intended only for supervisors at U.S. border posts and weren’t supposed to be circulated below their rank level. Lower-level border officers got much simpler material.
A software developer on the West Coast, who did not want to be identified for professional reasons, found out about the rule the hard way.
A dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, he went to renew his Nexus card at the Vancouver airport, a process that needs interviews with both Canadian and U.S. officials. The Canadian interview went smoothly, but the trouble began with the U.S. one.
“He just started asking rapid-fire questions: ‘Have you ever had a DUI?’ He was just looking for something.
“Finally he asked, ‘Have you ever smoked marijuana?’ He kind of curved his shoulders and looked at me.
“I told him I tried it when it became legal in Canada, but I don’t have any desire for it. I don’t like marijuana.”
Later he got an e-mail saying his renewal had been denied on the basis that he is “not a low-risk person.”
“The worst I’ve ever gotten is a speeding ticket,” he says. “I can’t believe this is actually happening to me. Even though it’s federally prohibited in the U.S., it’s legal in Canada. How can you hold that against me? It doesn’t make any sense.”
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