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Canadians crossing the border being asked about pot investments

File photo

Canadian travelers to the United States could have another concern when it comes to cannabis. They are already asked if they’ve ever used marijuana. Now, new questions have focused on whether they have ever invested in American pot companies.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana coming to Canada in mid-October, many Canadians with spare cash are investing in cannabis industries.

But that could get them in hot water at the border. 

That is just what happened to Vancouver businessman Sam Znaimer when he was denied entry at a border crossing in Washington state. Znaimer is a venture capitalist in Vancouver who began investing in American pot startup companies several years ago. He said he was shocked when he was refused entry and then banned for life.
“I was bewildered because there are Americans, American investment firms, American individuals, doing the exact same things as I am, with impunity, who are in no way doing anything against U.S. law or policy,” Znaimer said.
Znaimer says he believes his incident was a message to Canadians. That view is shared by Len Saunders, a U.S. immigration lawyer.  

"Since April I’ve seen at least a dozen Canadians who either personally have invested in the U.S. marijuana industry or work for a company that has some business dealings, whether they’re selling products or have, let’s say, a property in the United States that has tenants who are in the cannabis industry,” Saunders said.
When asked whether the policy is being enforced in the eastern part of the U.S., Customs and Border Protection says although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. states and Canada, it is still illegal under U.S. federal law and working or having involvement in the legal marijuana industry in the U.S. may affect an individual’s admissibility to the United States. CBP says determinations about admissibility are made on a case-by-case basis by a CBP officer.
The advice Len Saunders gives to Canadians working with American marijuana companies? Don’t cross the border.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.