The list of negative consequences from cannabis being illegal at the federal level seems to keep growing longer and longer. The government is now stating that if Canadians legally work in their medical marijuana industry they can be denied entry into the United States and could even receive a lifetime ban. The Customs and Border Patrol Agency has made it clear that they do not recognize these marijuana businesses as legal entities whether they are operating legally in their home country or not. Law enforcement has far too much power if it has the authority to ban someone from a country forever for doing nothing wrong. Preventing a substance that you consider illegal is one thing, but preventing family members and visitors from ever seeing the great United States again is a crime. Especially when the federal government is allowing its own states to pass laws that directly contradict their own criminal code.
Canadians have to be aware of this so they can take preventative steps and avoid being denied entry. This applies to anybody that has ever used illegal drugs in the past, not just workers in the marijuana industry. It will likely apply to an even larger number of people once recreational marijuana legalization takes effect on October 17th. It is unclear exactly how Homeland Security will evaluate whether someone is associated with the cannabis industry. The best bet for those visiting the country would be to never admit to any past marijuana use or involvement in the legal marijuana industry. It is unlikely that the officer will be asking those type of questions without a solid reason to believe you are involved with cannabis, but it is definitely a possibility. Open admission is a guaranteed way to get yourself denied entry. You will be treated as a potential harm to society without a second thought.
These types of questions will probably become more popular among border patrol agents come October so they can exercise their power with more results. Luckily a democratic representative from California, Lou Correa, is questioning this policy as well as asking for clarification on how it will be enforced. The letter addressed to the Secretary of Homeland Security asked for a response by the beginning of October. It seems the letter will have little effect on the enforcement of banning Canadians but the response should help clarify what to expect when crossing the border. Hopefully it will be crystal clear for travelers what questions to expect and what type of answers could land them in trouble. There will likely be a large number of people who suffer because they weren’t aware that their legal activities can still have serious consequences.
There seems to be one common similarity among the different states and countries that have moved to legalize marijuana. Each law mentions the issue of public consumption and explains that it is still illegal. Even though the punishment for consuming in public is minor in most jurisdictions, the only legal place the law allows consumption without penalty is your own private property. If you look at any other recreational substance that is popular in our society, it’s clear that it is not a reasonable expectation for people to never consume marijuana outside of their own private property. The local city council in Calgary is concerned with this issue and wants to address it before legalization even takes effect in Canada.
One of the issues that are brought up by opponents of public consumption areas is that there will be a rise in impaired driving rates in cities that allow these type of businesses to run. The truth is that if lawmakers were truly that concerned about the dangers of impaired driving, alcohol wouldn’t be served at nearly every restaurant and corner store. Alcohol has been proven through numerous studies to have a much larger impact on motor skills and leads to more aggressive driving behaviors then marijuana. Not to mention drunk driving is responsible for more than 10,000 deaths a year Anybody that has used both will tell you the same thing. However, the availability of more dangerous substances for public consumption by itself doesn’t justify allowing these places to operate. The fact that there are enormous amounts of people who visit/live in Calgary without owning any property means legally they can’t use marijuana at all. Why make it legal in the first place if only property owners have the right to consume? This essentially keeps prohibition in place for the rest of the local population. People will of course not abide by these rules and smoke in public places regardless, so it’s only sensible they establish designated areas to help regulate where it is used.
Canada’s legalization measure not only banned public consumption of marijuana but it also prohibited its use in apartment buildings, condominiums, and hotels. It seems counterintuitive that the country wanted to eliminate smoking in these locations but did not offer any alternative in order to make this law reasonable. This is why the city council is taking matters into its own hands. It is proposing that there be four separate locations that were selected in relation to their distance from schools and areas frequented by children. All of these locations would be located in Ward 9 and within a relative proximity of one another. Even though the public is most likely going to be in agreement and support the availability of cannabis clubs, the government wants to reach out and receive feedback before the 9th of September. The committee will be holding a meeting on the 9th of October where the public can also make comments in person about the important issue. Calgary should have a clear decision made by the time the new law goes into effect so consumers won’t have to worry about being prosecuted for consuming a legal product.
As things stand right now, private corporations across the country in states with or without legal weed are drug testing applicants and current employees for marijuana. This is not required by law but instead has been a common practice among businesses since the drug war was launched in the 1970’s. Even when states began legalizing the herb for medical and recreational purposes, things have remained the same. There may have been a decrease in the number of employers testing for marijuana or other drugs, but it’s still very common. A large reason for this is insurance companies refusing to provide service to businesses unless they make a considerable effort to maintain a drug-free workplace. Even though there is evidence showing the ineffectiveness drug testing has had on workplace safety, tradition has trumped information.
It was exciting to hear that on July 26th a bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress called the “Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act”. If passed it would prevent the government from denying employment to new employees or punishing existing employees for a positive THC drug test given that the cannabis use is legal in that state. Civilian government employees cannot be punished as long as the use was outside of the workplace. The only other exception to the bill is that positions requiring a high-security clearance are not barred from testing for the drug. This would be an enormous positive change for the entire country because many private companies would likely follow suit and stop testing for the drug as well. Also, I’m sure there are a ton of recreational/medical marijuana users who have passed up an opportunity or never considered working for the federal government due to their marijuana use. The government has been notorious for its strict policies on cannabis use citing its schedule 1 status under federal law. My mother and other people I know who are civilian employees have been randomly drug tested and went through a thorough background check to ensure there’s no history of drug use or other criminal activity.
The fat-soluble nature of THC is what allows the government and companies to be able to detect its use. Essentially all other drugs that are known to man exit the body in a much shorter period of time. For example, meth is only detectable in urine for around 72 hours. One long weekend and you’re good to go back to the office on Monday after a tweaked out Friday night. Heroin and Cocaine are the same way. It seems the hard drugs are eliminated by the body much quicker as if our body is flushing them out for our own well being. With marijuana and other drugs, detection times will vary from person to person due to an individuals metabolism among other factors. Marijuana metabolites are stored in fatty tissues and are slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of days or weeks. If this weren’t the case there would be little reason to drug test employees. It would be much harder for those who use other drugs to be detected by an upcoming drug screening. The effectiveness of workplace drug testing would be further questioned and likely eliminated shortly after marijuana is no longer tested for.
Allowing government employees to use cannabis on their own free time could benefit the employer as well. It gives them a much larger list of qualified applicants to choose from and likely a better candidate for the position. Outside of new employees, existing employees may decide that using cannabis to relax and unwind is a much more effective than alcohol. Having access to a safer alternative could help prevent work-related problems caused by alcohol abuse. Also, employees won’t have to hide their use from co-workers and will be less hesitant to build stronger relationships with the people they work with. Those suffering from medical conditions that interfere with their effectiveness on the job would be able to find relief without turning to prescription medication that comes with a long list of side effects. The list of positive results from a bill like this passing could go on forever and I can’t wait to see the workforce begin to openly accept the cannabis community.