Olympian Barred From U.S. Over Pot Use Files Application to Cross Border

Article by CTV News

Olympic gold medallist Ross Rebagliati speaks to CTV News about being denied entry to the U.S. over his pot use. Dec. 27, 2016.

Olympic gold medallist Ross Rebagliati hopes that being allowed to visit his mother in California won’t be a pipe dream for much longer.

The high-profile snowboarder travelled to the Peace Arch border crossing on Wednesday to apply for a special waiver that allows Canadians convicted of a drug offence to enter the country.

He had to file the application even though the 45-year-old has never been charged – let alone convicted – of a drug offence. Or any other criminal offence, for that matter.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, a drug offence includes simply “admitting to drug use,” and Rebagliati’s name is inexorably linked to marijuana use due to testing positive for THC shortly after winning the inaugural giant slalom competition at the 1998 Nagano Games.

Rebagliati, a medical cannabis advocate who now runs a dispensary called Ross’ Gold in Kelowna, said he was last denied entry a few years ago when he and his young family were turned back during a trip to visit his mother, who spends her winters down south.

He decided to spend US$585 (nearly C$800) to apply for an I-192 U.S. Waiver of Inadmissibility that would allow him to cross the border, though there is no guarantee he’ll be approved and the maximum length of time it would be valid is only five years.

He said he is “optimistic” he’ll be approved and expects to hear back about his application in four to six months.

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