“They said that I was inadmissible because I admitted to smoking marijuana after the age of 18 and before I’d received my medical marijuana license,” Matthew Harvey told CBC News.
The 39-year-old Canadian citizen wants to take his three-year-old daughter on a vacation to Disneyland in California, but is having difficulties entering the US due to a previous trip in which he admitted to border guards that he had used marijuana in the past.
“Of course I’d smoked marijuana, Canada didn’t even have a program back then. I smoked marijuana recreationally. I guess I should have basically lied because now I am inadmissible apparently.”
In 2014, Harvey drove from Vancouver to Seattle. When agents with the US Customs and Border Patrol noticed marijuana in his vehicle, he was detained for six hours. Following that incident, he now must apply for a special travel waiver ahead of any visit to the US. The permit costs $585, and expires whenever an approval officer deems necessary.
That fee will increase to $930 this year.
“The present marijuana regime that has existed now for many years in both Canada and the United States has clearly failed Canadian and American young people because North American teenagers are among the biggest users of marijuana in the western world,” said Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
The Canadian government is preparing to legalize and regulate marijuana, a move that could cause increased conflicts between Ottawa and Washington.
“We will certainly work very hard to make sure that they understand that we’re moving a regime with respect to marijuana that will be far more effective than theirs.”
While many US states have legalized small amounts of marijuana, the federal government still considers it an illicit substance. Washington state, where Harvey traveled in 2014, is one of four states that has legalized cannabis for recreational use.
He regrets admitting his habits to the border agents.
“We should raise awareness that if you are crossing over the border, not to admit to using recreational marijuana,” he said. “Just deny, deny, deny.”
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