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Cannabis and Immigration in Canada: Rules are Changing

Cannabis and immigration in Canada are changing when it comes to the law. In the past, cannabis was a controlled substance in Canada. The Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45, changes that by allowing adults in Canada to possess up to 30 grams of the dried product in public after October 17, 2018. Until October 17, 2018, cannabis remains illegal in the country. After that date, provinces will have their own laws about age restrictions and whether individuals will be allowed to grow cannabis plants themselves. It will remain illegal to bring cannabis into Canada from another country.

How Does This Affect Immigration?

You are inadmissible into Canada if you have committed certain serious crimes, such as drug possession or trafficking or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In the past, this has meant that if you were caught with cannabis or were convicted of driving under the influence, you could be declared inadmissible to Canada.

While the new law will make cannabis legal, however, it will not solve some of the challenges applicants have faced. For example, if you have been convicted of a cannabis-related offense prior to October 17, 2018, when Bill C-45 goes into effect, you may still be declared inadmissible. Moreover, under Bill C-45, you will still need to follow specific cannabis rules. For instance, you will still need to obtain cannabis legally and observe the provincial rules for age restrictions and amounts. Driving under the influence of cannabis will remain illegal and you will also not be able to cross international borders with cannabis. Anyone found guilty of offenses under Bill C-45 because they violated the new cannabis law may be considered inadmissible to Canada. Someone who is legally in Canada who violates Bill C-45 could lose their immigration status.

Keep in mind, too, that if you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you can be denied entry into the United States if you admit to having used cannabis or work for the cannabis industry if it becomes legal. Even though some states have made cannabis legal, even after it is legal across Canada, you can be denied entry into the United States, possibly for life, if you have ever used cannabis. You may also be asked extensive questions about your use of cannabis when you are at the U.S. border. If you have concerns, consult with an attorney before attempting to cross the border.

What Can I Do?

It is important to familiarize yourself with Bill C-45 and with the changing law so you can follow it closely. If you have been found guilty of a drug offense in the past which has made you inadmissible into Canada, you can seek a Canadian record suspension or individual rehabilitation to remove inadmissibility. You may also be deemed rehabilitated if your offense occurred a long time ago.

Do You Want to Immigrate?

If you want to live and work in Canada, Immigration Direct has created easy-to-navigate resources to help you apply for Express Entry or other programs. Be sure to take a look at our free resources, such as our FAQs.


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