US Customs asking about previous marijuana use

Old Oct 17, 19, 9:14 am
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US Customs asking about previous marijuana use

I just read an article about a couple in BC getting a life time ban from the US because he admitted to smoking marijuana over 20 years ago. Are US customs at airports asking similar questions. I am heading to Hawaii next week.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 9:20 am
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Doesn't Canada do the same when they refuse to admit USA citizens who have received minor citations for possessing small amounts of marijuana in jurisdictions that decriminalized it long ago?
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Old Oct 17, 19, 9:29 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Doesn't Canada do the same when they refuse to admit USA citizens who have received minor citations for possessing small amounts of marijuana in jurisdictions that decriminalized it long ago?
Nope.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 10:02 am
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Although marijuana use has been legalized in several US states and in Canada, federally in the US, it's still illegal, and one can be barred for admitting to it. One can also be denied entry for lying to a CBP officer.

There's no guarantee that CBP will ask about it when you go, but there's also nothing stopping them from asking about it.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 10:35 am
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Old Oct 17, 19, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
Although marijuana use has been legalized in several US states and in Canada, federally in the US, it's still illegal, and one can be barred for admitting to it. One can also be denied entry for lying to a CBP officer.

There's no guarantee that CBP will ask about it when you go, but there's also nothing stopping them from asking about it.
Except for people who have flown into the US from a vacation in Jamaica or in the Netherlands, Iíve never observed CBP asking this kind of question about that drug at US airports of entry. And even then itís not been a common question. I donít know of even one person in my family and friends circle to have ever been asked this question, and that circle includes lots of people who arenít US citizens. But this kind of question seems to have become more frequent in more recent years than it used to be.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 1:03 pm
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Are you sure [he admitted to smoking marijuana over 20 years ago] part? Unless he was admitted to prison due to breaking federal law 20 years ago, which may leave a criminal record in system, I don't see how he can get a [life time] ban. CBP can only refuse entry if they found you are [in possession] of marijuana, or they deemed your behaviour unacceptable at the interview. To get a life time ban, if your source is correct, needs a much bigger offense. For example, the guy served a prison sentence for crimes related to marijuana 20 years ago and lied about it when attempt to enter US. That would be the only plausible explanation IMHO what could have happened.

I would urge you to read the story again, or at least attempt to post a link to the full story. Smoking marijuana 20 years ago is very different from [got caught and left a criminal record from smoking marijuana 20 years ago].
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Old Oct 17, 19, 1:04 pm
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No one is getting a lifetime ban for smoking MJ 20 years ago. Read these articles with speculation that there's more to the story.

Are US customs at airports asking similar questions.


Yup! My airport sends people home frequently for prior drug use. It's usually because they didn't disclose that on their ESTA/visa app.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 1:43 pm
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On my oh my!!

How many of us Boomers are now at risk of not being allowed to return home!? ;-)

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Old Oct 17, 19, 2:07 pm
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Originally Posted by maninblack View Post
No one is getting a lifetime ban for smoking MJ 20 years ago. Read these articles with speculation that there's more to the story.



Yup! My airport sends people home frequently for prior drug use. It's usually because they didn't disclose that on their ESTA/visa app.
The ESTA and visa application process questions related to drug use were to be about illegal drug possession/use/distribution and about being an addict/abuser, so as to frustrate law violators and addicts from being lawfully admitted and present in the US.

If the person used such drug in a way that wasnít illegal and wasnít a drug addict or other abuser of the law in the relevant jurisdiction(s) of drug possession/use/distribution, then the drug use shouldnít be an issue for those seeking admission to the US since itís not unlawful use in the jurisdiction(s) of relevance where the drug is a controlled or uncontrolled substance.

It sounds like youíre talking mostly about foreign visitors who verbally admitted to violating laws (somewhere) related to drugs when not having marked the forms so as to declare drug addict/abuser/criminal history. Inconsistency isnít anyoneís friend in these circumstances.

A person who legally uses marijuana as prescribed by a doctor for trials in Denmark and isnít a drug addict is admissible to the US even as marijuana is generally not legal in Denmark.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 2:09 pm
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Enjoy Hawaii. Not sure what the relevance is to the whole dope thing, but the islands are lovely.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 3:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
Although marijuana use has been legalized in several US states and in Canada, federally in the US, it's still illegal, and one can be barred for admitting to it. One can also be denied entry for lying to a CBP officer.

There's no guarantee that CBP will ask about it when you go, but there's also nothing stopping them from asking about it.
Unless there is a public record of your past use, the answer to this question is ALWAYS a hard NO.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 4:36 pm
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Many, many people have been deported and banned future admission to the US FOR LIFE for admitting to have used marijuana in the past. <redacted>.

Last edited by TWA884; Oct 17, 19 at 5:23 pm Reason: Political commentary better left for OMNI/PR
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Old Oct 17, 19, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by AMJP View Post
I just read an article about a couple in BC getting a life time ban from the US because he admitted to smoking marijuana over 20 years ago. Are US customs at airports asking similar questions. I am heading to Hawaii next week.
Any violation of a controlled substance law, anywhere in the world, incurs a lifetime inadmissibility to the U.S. If you're citationophilic, it's section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or 8 USC 1182(2)(A)(i)(II). It does require a *violation* of the law, so merely having used drugs 20 years ago, five years ago, or five minutes ago does not necessarily incur the ineligibility. If CBP already knows from past encounters (or a variety of other sources) that you've been convicted of a drug offense, though, then if you just show up at the border, you are pretty much toast. There are a few arcane exceptions to that rule (almost all of which require the offense to have been committed before age 18), but broadly speaking anyone with a drug violation on their record at any point in the past will have a much harder time traveling than they would otherwise--visa-free travel is right out. That said, the ineligibility is pretty routinely waived in the course of a visa application if the traveler is otherwise an upstanding citizen, honest about their history, and not likely to re-offend--so, as a practical matter, someone who smoked a J or several in college will have to jump through a few more hoops for having done so, but will probably still be allowed entry in the end, all else being equal.

Actively LYING about this sort of thing to a CBP or visa officer will quite often incur a permanent ineligibility under still another law section, and this may well torpedo the traveler's credibility beyond repair. So, don't do that.

Originally Posted by Collierkr View Post
Unless there is a public record of your past use, the answer to this question is ALWAYS a hard NO.
Holy sweet muppety Zeus, what terrible advice. The answer to ANY question put to you by a federal officer, if you don't like where the conversation is headed, is the truth or silence. You do not know what information CBP is working off of, and material misrepresentation is a much more durable form of forever ban than a minor, ancient-history drug offense is. Literally being caught with a joint in your pocket at the inspection is less likely to result in a permanent ban.

Last edited by TWA884; Oct 18, 19 at 9:33 am Reason: Merge consecutive posts by the same member; please use the multi-quote function. Thank you.
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Old Oct 17, 19, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by NavSTL View Post
Any violation of a controlled substance law, anywhere in the world, incurs a lifetime inadmissibility to the U.S. If you're citationophilic, it's section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or 8 USC 1182(2)(A)(i)(II). It does require a *violation* of the law, so merely having used drugs 20 years ago, five years ago, or five minutes ago does not necessarily incur the ineligibility. If CBP already knows from past encounters (or a variety of other sources) that you've been convicted of a drug offense, though, then if you just show up at the border, you are pretty much toast. There are a few arcane exceptions to that rule (almost all of which require the offense to have been committed before age 18), but broadly speaking anyone with a drug violation on their record at any point in the past will have a much harder time traveling than they would otherwise--visa-free travel is right out. That said, the ineligibility is pretty routinely waived in the course of a visa application if the traveler is otherwise an upstanding citizen, honest about their history, and not likely to re-offend--so, as a practical matter, someone who smoked a J or several in college will have to jump through a few more hoops for having done so, but will probably still be allowed entry in the end, all else being equal.

Actively LYING about this sort of thing to a CBP or visa officer will quite often incur a permanent ineligibility under still another law section, and this may well torpedo the traveler's credibility beyond repair. So, don't do that.
But the point is not about people who have convictions on their record. It is about prior USE at ANY TIME in one's past. And that is absurd.

And there is more than abundant evidence that CBP is most definitely applying THAT logic and excluding foreign visitors simply for past use.

Originally Posted by NavSTL View Post
Holy sweet muppety Zeus, what terrible advice. The answer to ANY question put to you by a federal officer, if you don't like where the conversation is headed, is the truth or silence. You do not know what information CBP is working off of, and material misrepresentation is a much more durable form of forever ban than a minor, ancient-history drug offense is. Literally being caught with a joint in your pocket at the inspection is less likely to result in a permanent ban.
No. It is very sane advice. Because why does CBP need to know if an Italian used marijuana last week or 30 years ago?

Dissecting- you are conflating two different issues. The fact that someone smoked marijuana does not equate to a conviction.

What CBP is doing is asking people if they ever USED an illicit drug and then EXTRAPOLATING that to "oh, he/she broke the laws therefore is inadmissible"

Quite different than if you have a conviction on your record. It is absurd to permanently ban someone from the US because they used an illicit drug in their past.
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Last edited by TWA884; Oct 17, 19 at 5:38 pm Reason: Merge consecutive posts by the same member; please use the multi-quote function. Thank you.
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