Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau

Trudeau’s pot admission reefer madness to U.S. lawyer

Disclosing marijuana use 'kiss of death' for entering United States

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s admission he smoked marijuana after becoming an MP – and the ensuing flurry of similar disclosures by other Canadian politicians – has a U.S. immigration lawyer shaking his head.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw him admit to it,” said Len Saunders.

The Blaine, Wash. lawyer says Trudeau and any other admitted Canadian pot smokers – high profile or not – should expect to be refused entry to the U.S.

“Justin Trudeau is inadmissable to the United States,” Saunders said. “He’s admitted to use of an illegal substance. If he’s elected prime minister he can’t come into the U.S. without a waiver.”

Saunders warned earlier this year he was seeing large numbers of B.C. residents permanently denied entry to the U.S. after they admitted to past marijuana use when questioned by American border agents.

Washington State’s vote in late 2012 to legalize, tax and sell marijuana has created confusion, leading some B.C. residents to believe pot is now a non-issue when heading south.

In fact, Saunders said, the drug remains illegal under U.S. federal law and someone with no criminal record who merely admits historic marijuana use can be barred from entry because it’s a crime of “moral turpitude.”

Saunders said he hasn’t seen any new cases this summer of Canadians refused entry for admitting pot use.

He said the pending changes in Washington State – stores selling marijuana are expected to open there within a year – may have left U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials unsure how to apply the law right now.

But Saunders said he still believes it’s folly for any Canadian to publicly disclose their past pot use – either on camera as Trudeau did or via searchable social media posts or perhaps a blog.

He noted U.S. border agents several years ago Googled a UBC psychology professor who was trying to cross the border and denied him entry when the web search showed he’d written a book on illegal substances in which he discussed experimenting with LSD in the 1960s.

Facebook posts about marijuana or even photos on your mobile phone could be sources of trouble at the border, he said.

“It’s the kiss of death if you want to enter the U.S.”

Polls suggest Trudeau has not lost support among Canadian voters, most of whom back some form of pot decriminalization or legalization.

Canadian politicians who have subsequently disclosed their own past marijuana use include Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the NDP and Liberal leaders opposing her and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

In B.C., the list includes Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Kamloops Conservative MP Kathy McLeod and former Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs, who is leading Sensible BC’s petition campaign in that area to force a provincial referendum on marijuana reform.

In 2012, Premier Christy Clark was questioned about marijuana use and said “there was a lot of that going on when I was in high school and I didn’t avoid it all together.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is closed between Impala Road and Humpback Road following a “major” police incident, according to DriveBC. (Black Press Media file photo)
UPDATED: Major crimes unit takes over after police incident closes Highway 14 through Sooke

Incident occurred Friday night, detour made available early Saturday

To each their own pipe. The new sewer main during staging in James Bay before it was installed in 2018, to convey waste to the McLoughlin Point treatment facility. (Black Press Media file photo)
‘End in sight,’ for Victoria’s annual sewage overflows

Wastewater projects underway should end sewage overflows

Community members Ed Hutchinson, left, Dave Noren, and Pat Graham, president of The Ladies Guild, stand before the new book house outside the Church of the Advent in Colwood. The tiny library was built as a result of the annual Church of the Advent book sale being cancelled due to COVID-19. (Submitted/Joan Hoffman)
Colwood church builds little library

Church of Advent annual book sale cancelled due to health restrictions

(Courtesy Very Good Butchers)
Very Good Butchers brand adds cheese to its platter

The Cultured Nut products to be rebranded under Very Good Cheese banner

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using piece made at Kennametal’s Langford site

The Greater Victoria plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read