Since the legalization of recreational cannabis, cross-border travel has been on the minds of many Canadians. The United States government still considers cannabis to be an illegal drug, and those who admit to using cannabis or working in the cannabis industry may be subject to a lifetime ban on entry into the United States.
Right now, we do not know much about what will happen when Canadians involved with recreational cannabis attempt to enter the United States, other than that it will cause a host of problems. And with relations between Canada and the United States strained over trade and tariffs, those concerns are at an all-time high.
Why can the United States deny entry to legal cannabis users?
Despite the fact that many states have legalized recreational cannabis, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug because drugs are regulated federally, and not by individual states. The United States is the birthplace of the war on drugs, and law enforcement operates on the assumption that the sale and distribution of cannabis is connected to violent crime. Canadians who use marijuana or who earn their income from the sale of cannabis are effectively admitting to what amounts to a criminal act under American law.
The United States is entitled to pass laws as it sees fit, even if its laws are in conflict with other countries. And where those laws conflict, such as will be the case with Canada and marijuana, the sovereign state has the right to deny entry to those who violate their laws, even if it occurs outside the country.