Article by The Toronto Star
Dealing with reaction from the United States was always going to be one of the trickiest aspects of moving towards legalization of marijuana across Canada.
The case of Matthew Harvey, which came to light this past week, underscores just how tricky it may get. And it shows that the federal government must lose no time in making sure that individual Canadians are not penalized as a result of misunderstandings between the two countries.
Harvey was banned from the U.S. for life in 2014 after he truthfully answered a question from an American border control officer as he tried to cross from Vancouver into Washington State.
The officer spotted a marijuana magazine in his car and asked him about his pot habits. While Harvey was a legal user of medical marijuana in Canada, he admitted that he had smoked before he received his licence to use the drug for medical purposes.
Incredibly, that was enough to earn him an on-the-spot lifetime ban from travelling to the U.S. He now wants to take his young daughter to Disneyland, but must apply for a travel waiver – an expensive, time-consuming and uncertain process.
All this even though Harvey was a legal consumer of marijuana in Canada, and was crossing over into a state that legalized pot for recreational use two years ago. Despite that, marijuana remains a prohibited drug under U.S. federal law, and the federal border agent was rigorously applying those rules.