It’s not just Justin Trudeau who could be denied entry to the US because he smoked cannabis — you can be too!

Peter Thurley
3 min readMar 20, 2018
More of my cannabis photographs can be found at

This IPolitics headline, “Trudeau could be barred from U.S. after he’s PM because he smoked pot: U.S. lawyer” is a little misleading.

The context is not just that ‘Trudeau smoked pot’, but that U.S. law currently makes it illegal to travel to the United States if *any Canadian citizen* has *ever* used cannabis in their life *ever*


If an American Border Official asks you the question “Have you ever used Marijuana” and you answer YES, you will be denied admission to the United States. If you answer NO (and you actually have), you’re guilty of a felony offense. Note the question asked nothing about consumption methods, time elapsed since you last partook, or the medical/non-medical reasons you may have for consuming cannabis.

If you currently have a NEXUS card and a border official asks you that question, you risk losing that card and being banned from the United States for life.

However, Saunders noted that you do have the right to refuse to answer the question. At worst, you will be denied entry that one time; if you answer in any other way, you may never be allowed to go back.

According to Saunders,

“every Canadian who consumes legal weed could be deemed inadmissible to the U.S., and that they need to know they don’t have to answer whether they smoke marijuana recreationally.

Doing Business? Doesn’t matter:

The testimony of Len Saunders to the Senate Defence Committee today is based on his experience as an American Immigration lawyer in Blaine, WA working primarily on cannabis cases. Note that because the border is within U.S. federal jurisdiction, it makes no difference that cannabis is legal in Washington State. According to Saunders, if your car merely smells of cannabis, the American border agents have “reason to believe that you or your vehicle was used in illegal drug trade,” they will search you and your person, and then deny you access. This goes for all human beings in the car as well.

Of course, Donald Trump today announced that he was considering death sentences for drug smugglers in the United States, and flippantly included “drug abusers” in that category, in his effort to stem the time of opioid use. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also indicated that he will continue to pursue cannabis users across the United States on Federal grounds, and that he is not at all sympathetic to the medical reasons for using cannabis.

Saunders concluded with a dire warning for cannabis users in Canada:

“When Trump talks about building a wall on the southern border, I see a wall on the northern border for Canadians because of marijuana. There is a brick wall going up … if they answer truthfully they’ve smoked marijuana.”



Peter Thurley

Professional Writer-for-Hire, politico-in-detox, desmoid tumour survivor; more at