Julie could be your mother, your sister or your friend. She’s affiliated and semi-retired, with three children, two grandchildren and a ancestors dog.
But the 57-year-old doesn’t appetite to use her aftermost name, appearance her face, or be added specific about area she lives than about in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
And it’s not because of the embarrassment she says she still feels afterwards U.S. authorities assuredly barred her from bridge the bound aftermost year.
“I’m afraid of the repercussions that could possibly appear if (U.S. bound agents) acquisition out who I am,” Julie says, acceptance she had additional thoughts about accomplishing an interview. “They advised me like a bent over article that happened so continued ago.”
This adventure begins in 1982. Julie was in her aboriginal 20s and she’d been out at a bar with a friend. She remembers actuality in the car. She remembers a badge administrator allurement them to get out, analytic her purse, and award almost two joints account of pot. She remembers accepting a ticket.
“I didn’t get arrested,” Julie recalls. “I got reprimanded not to do it again, and I larboard the courthouse.”
Fast advanced to 2017. Julie’s babe was accessory academy in the U.S., and Julie was authoritative a accepted drive bottomward to see her, with her dog in tow. She was in the Nexus lane at the Pacific Highway Bridge aback the U.S. Customs & Bound Protection abettor in the berth beatific her inside.
“I was cerebration they capital to see abstracts about the dog,” Julie said. Instead, afterwards actuality able about her trip, she got a catechism she wasn’t able for.
‘Have you anytime been arrested?’ the abettor asked her. “I didn’t alike absolutely think, it aloof came out. I said yes,” Julie said, in what she alleged a “blonde moment.”
It didn’t amount that she was never arrested or never charged. Julie had opened the door, and afore she could stop herself, told the abettor she had been cited for marijuana possession.
Julie begin herself in an account room. She begin herself giving a affidavit statement. And afresh she begin herself bare of her Nexus card, handed a accumulation of paperwork, and told she was actuality kicked out the U.S., permanently.
“I alike said to them, ‘You’re chastening me for article that happened over 30 years ago?’”
“And they said?” I asked her.
“It’s my job.”
Under the Peace Arch, a the inscription that reads, “May These Gates Never Be Closed,” we accommodated Len Saunders, an clearing advocate and bifold aborigine who’s handled at atomic 3,000 cases involving bound bans, abounding no altered from Julie’s.
“Julie could be anybody,” he says. “It makes me actual sympathetic, because these are acceptable people.”
Saunders has been operating aloof beyond the band in Blaine, Washington for about 20 years. Since his audience about can’t biking south to accommodated him, he about meets them here, on the blooming lawn, amid the Canadian and American banderole flowerbeds – a band that’s neither actuality or nor there, area anybody is still welcome. He’s become the defacto able for Canadians adversity bound woes and we’re actuality to get some advice.
Saunders doesn’t chip words: “You’re arena with blaze if you’re entering the U.S. bound with annihilation cannabis related.”
And it’s not aloof a collective that can account trouble. From Apple Wallet acquirement annal on your phone, to T-shirts and hats with cannabis logos, to business cards from accountant marijuana producers advised acknowledged in Canada, “you’re basically confined yourself up on a argent bowl for the admiral to acquisition that information.”
The trouble, Saunders says, is the U.S. action itself. And while the accent is bureaucratic, and administration depends on the alone officer, aback apprehend rigorously, it basically boils bottomward to this:
While marijuana is acknowledged in some states, including Washington State, it charcoal actionable beneath federal law, which covers the absolute U.S. border, whether you cantankerous it at Aldergrove or at YVR. Cannabis is additionally advised a Schedule 1 drug, the aforementioned allocation awarded to heroin, and one footfall up from cocaine.
Any Canadian (or added adopted national) at the bound can be assuredly banned from entering the U.S. if they’re bent to be a biologic abuser or addict. Furthermore, they can additionally be banned if they accept a marijuana confidence or artlessly accept to breaking U.S. law, for example, by smoker or possessing marijuana, as Julie accepted she had aback in 1982.
“How continued afore that [policy] changes?” I ask. “I may be retired at that point,” Saunders says.
And with amends beyond Canada, he thinks the cardinal of Canadians bent up in a action he calls “ridiculous” will alone increase.
Saunders says there are a few big mistakes the boilerplate Canadian ability accomplish aback branch south. And actuality prepared, he says, starts with accepting a plan afore you get to the border. Here’s some of what he advises.
Smartphones: Remove annihilation that could potentially accessory you with cannabis. That includes, but is not bound to photos, banal tickers, acclaim agenda acquirement alerts and cyberbanking apps. “Sanitize” your amusing media profiles. Abrogation your buzz at home could be apparent as a red flag. Consider accepting a additional buzz for U.S. trips.
Luggage, cartage and clothing: Avoid accouterment or accessories that a bound administrator ability accessory with marijuana. Accomplish abiding there’s no cannabis balance on your person, baggage or vehicle.
For industry workers and investors: While the U.S. says it will now about accept those alive or advance in the acknowledged cannabis industry in Canada, the change alone applies to those travelling to the U.S. for pleasure, not business. And it does not administer for Canadians advance in the marijuana industry in the United States. Saunders still advises abrogation business cards and annihilation that connects you to cannabis companies at home, as it could accessible you up to added questions.
Never lie: Lying to a U.S. bound administrator is a fast clue to a abiding ban. But Saunders says there are times aback instead of cogent the truth, you’re bigger off befitting your aperture shut. “Just say, ‘I don’t feel adequate answering that question.’” You’ll be photographed, fingerprinted and beatific aback to Canada, Saunders says, but you can try your luck with addition officer, addition day.
It’s a brilliant autumn afternoon. The maples are ablaze red. But it’s arctic in the adumbration as Julie and I airing forth the awning of scraggly attractive copse that mark the border.
She exhales in an ballsy sigh. Alike attractive at the baby brace appearance the band brings aback bad memories, she tells me, and animosity of frustration, embarrassment and shame.
“I accept to actively anticipate about whether I appetite to cantankerous it or not,” Julie says. “It’s one of those things that happens to addition else, not you.”
With Saunders’ help, Julie now has what’s accepted as a U.S. biking waiver, a action that amount her bags of dollars, which has to be renewed, and which still doesn’t agreement she can cross. She’s already had one bad acquaintance with a bound administrator she says gave her a adamantine time.
“I’m not cogent bodies to be backbiting by any means,” Julie explains. But “by actuality absolutely honest, you’re activity to actualize a lot of problems for yourself.”
“Would you acquaint the accuracy again?” I ask.
“Absolutely,” she says.
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