As the deadline for cannabis legalization in Canada approaches, laws surrounding the newly legal drug are finally becoming more clear.
TL;DR The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency has reversed its decision to give lifetime bans to Canadians who work or invest in the cannabis industry.
To be fair, provinces and municipalities had little time to construct a legal framework. While the federal Cannabis Act legalized the drug and amended the Criminal Code, it was up to the individual provinces to regulate distribution, consumption, and enforcement.
For months, these new regulations were circulated only through ambiguous rumours. Only now have laws become concrete. The city of Montreal, for example, just yesterday finalized its rules about public consumption.
The United States, however, has been unambiguous in its condemnation of Canada's liberal attitudes toward marijuana.
The drug is the subject of particular skepticism under the Trump administration, which made it clear that any Canadian associated with the drug, either as a worker in the cannabis industry or casual smoker, risks a lifetime ban from entering the country.
While it would be almost impossible for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (USCBP) to track every Canadian who has purchased or used marijuana, many feared that individuals involved in the cannabis industry would receive automatic travel prohibitions.
Indeed, the names of many of those individuals are public information and easily accessible by American authorities.
But yesterday afternoon the USCBP quietly issued a complete reversal of part of that policy.
At the risk of appearing indecisive, the agency slipped the annoucement into its website press releases.
Part of the policy remains unchanged: "any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who... admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State... is inadmissible to the United States."
But the agency appears to have relaxed bans on workers and investors in the industry: "a Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S."
This is good news for the potentially thousands of Canadians who have taken advantage of the burgeoning industry.
Those individuals will be able to travel freely to the United States as long as their visit does not relate to cannabis.
Still, other issues remain unresolved. It is still unclear, for instance, how a Canadian who works in the cannabis industry may safely travel over U.S. airpsace without the threat of imprisonment should their aircraft make an unplanned landing.
Stay tuned for more cannabis-related news.