Any Number of Reasons Could Prompt the Pot-Smoking Question at U.S. Border

Article by Peter Zimonjic, Julie Van Dusen, CBC News

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If simply telling a U.S. border guard that you have smoked pot can get you barred from the country for life, then many who have never been asked the question might be wondering what prompts a customs officer to pose the query in the first place.

That was certainly on the mind of Vancouver’s Alan Ranta, 35, a freelance music journalist, when he attempted to drive his Toyota Yaris hatchback from British Columbia to Washington state in July to cover the Cascadia music festival.

“[The U.S. border agent] didn’t like the look of our camping gear, I guess,” said Ranta. “He just asked us two questions: Where we were going, and if we were hiding anyone in the back.”

U.S. border agents searched his car and found a purse that read “weed money,” which Ranta says had never contained pot or money.

“I answered truthfully. I said I had smoked [weed],” he said. “That led to followup questions on how much I smoked, where had I smoked it and when I smoked.”

After that he was denied entry and told that he was barred from the country for life. To ever get back into the U.S. he would have to apply for a $585 US ($752 Cdn) travel waiver.

Read full article here.

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