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The newest challenge for U.S.-Canadian relations: Weed-smoking politicians
It could raise some problems at the border
 
"Oh yeah. I've smoked a lot of [weed]" - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
"Oh yeah. I've smoked a lot of [weed]" - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Canadian politicians are evidently way more chill than their U.S. counterparts. And that mellow vibe could very well make them unwelcome across the border.

American border guards can deny admission to the U.S. to anyone who has admitted to smoking pot. Immigration lawyer Len Saunders, a Canadian-born U.S. citizen who practices in Washington state, tells The Huffington Post Canada that they do it all the time. One psychologist was turned back at the border after an agent Googled his name and found that he had written about experimenting with LSD back in the 1960s.

Another poor guy won a trip to the Super Bowl last year, but was turned away because of a marijuana conviction from 1981. Canadians don't even have to have a conviction for drug use to be denied entry — they can be blocked if they ever admitted using, whether in a Tweet or a radio interview.

And that's bad news for a growing number of Canadian politicians.

Remember the rumors about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was supposedly caught on film smoking crack? The film, if it ever existed, has apparently disappeared, but that doesn't let Ford off the hook. He's an avowed weed enthusiast. Asked last week if he has ever toked up, the mayor grinned and said, "Oh yeah. I've smoked a lot of it."

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau also might have sabotaged his chances of ever catching a Broadway show when he admitted last month to smoking pot while in office. Trudeau, the son of a hippie prime minister, has made legalization a plank of his platform, so perhaps his admission is unsurprising. What is surprising is that he claims to have inhaled just a few times, but to no great effect. "Sometimes, I guess, I have gotten a buzz, but other times no," he says. "I'm not really crazy about it."

Asked if these admissions mean trouble for border crossings, Toronto-based immigration lawyer Henry Chang told Global News it's entirely possible.

Chang said being a high-profile person won't necessarily help politicians either.

"Officially there isn't supposed to be any sort of special treatment. It's a matter of are the border officers aware of the violation," he said. "If they are, they'll have to apply the law and bar the person." [Global News]

 
Susan Caskie is The Week's international editor and was a member of the team that launched The Week's U.S. print edition. She has worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Transitions magazine, and UN Wire, and reads a bunch of languages.

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