Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau

Trudeau’s pot admission reefer madness to U.S. lawyer

Disclosing marijuana use 'kiss of death' for entering United States

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s admission he smoked marijuana after becoming an MP – and the ensuing flurry of similar disclosures by other Canadian politicians – has a U.S. immigration lawyer shaking his head.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw him admit to it,” said Len Saunders.

The Blaine, Wash. lawyer says Trudeau and any other admitted Canadian pot smokers – high profile or not – should expect to be refused entry to the U.S.

“Justin Trudeau is inadmissable to the United States,” Saunders said. “He’s admitted to use of an illegal substance. If he’s elected prime minister he can’t come into the U.S. without a waiver.”

Saunders warned earlier this year he was seeing large numbers of B.C. residents permanently denied entry to the U.S. after they admitted to past marijuana use when questioned by American border agents.

Washington State’s vote in late 2012 to legalize, tax and sell marijuana has created confusion, leading some B.C. residents to believe pot is now a non-issue when heading south.

In fact, Saunders said, the drug remains illegal under U.S. federal law and someone with no criminal record who merely admits historic marijuana use can be barred from entry because it’s a crime of “moral turpitude.”

Saunders said he hasn’t seen any new cases this summer of Canadians refused entry for admitting pot use.

He said the pending changes in Washington State – stores selling marijuana are expected to open there within a year – may have left U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials unsure how to apply the law right now.

But Saunders said he still believes it’s folly for any Canadian to publicly disclose their past pot use – either on camera as Trudeau did or via searchable social media posts or perhaps a blog.

He noted U.S. border agents several years ago Googled a UBC psychology professor who was trying to cross the border and denied him entry when the web search showed he’d written a book on illegal substances in which he discussed experimenting with LSD in the 1960s.

Facebook posts about marijuana or even photos on your mobile phone could be sources of trouble at the border, he said.

“It’s the kiss of death if you want to enter the U.S.”

Polls suggest Trudeau has not lost support among Canadian voters, most of whom back some form of pot decriminalization or legalization.

Canadian politicians who have subsequently disclosed their own past marijuana use include Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the NDP and Liberal leaders opposing her and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

In B.C., the list includes Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Kamloops Conservative MP Kathy McLeod and former Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs, who is leading Sensible BC’s petition campaign in that area to force a provincial referendum on marijuana reform.

In 2012, Premier Christy Clark was questioned about marijuana use and said “there was a lot of that going on when I was in high school and I didn’t avoid it all together.”

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family homeless after fire rips through house on Abbotsford border

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read