Canada Politics

Could Justin Trudeau be barred from entering the U.S. for pot admission?

Canada Politics

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Justin Trudeau in Prince Edward Island

Two weeks ago, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau admitted to the world that he smoked marijuana after becoming a member of Parliament.

Well, according to U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders, that admission could come with some serious consequences.

In an interview with the Surrey North Delta Leader, Saunders claims that Trudeau could now be barred from entering the United States.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw him admit to it," said Len Saunders.

The Blaine, Wash. lawyer says Trudeau and any other admitted Canadian pot smokers – high profile or not – should expect to be refused entry to the U.S.

"Justin Trudeau is inadmissable to the United States," Saunders said. "He's admitted to use of an illegal substance. If he's elected prime minister he can't come into the U.S. without a waiver."

Saunders notes that, with the recent referendum that ended pot prohibition in Washington, officials in that state may have somewhat eased up on enforcing those rules but that it's still a "folly for any Canadian to publicly disclose their past pot use."

[ Related: Former Olympian Ross Rebagliati looking to launch Ross’ Gold marijuana cigarettes in U.S. ]

A Canadian-based U.S. immigration expert agrees.

"Justin Trudeau could very well be barred from the US for admitting pot use," Fadi Minawi of Niren and Associates told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.

"If [Trudeau] was to be questioned [at U.S. customs] and..admitted to the essential elements of this offence that would constitute of a violation of a law relating to a controlled substance and that would be problematic for him.

"We have dealt with people who are barred for life from the US for previous drug use upon being questioned – this happens more frequently than many people believe."

Minawi adds that if Trudeau is barred, his only recourse would be to apply for what's called an entry waiver which would essentially deem him "rehabilitated." But there are no guarantees.

"Waivers are approved for up to five years total – although not easy to get," he said.

"Applicants need to demonstrate: 1) risk of harm to US society if admitted; 2) seriousness of violation (any drug violation is considered very serious); and 3) the reason applicant is seeking entry to the US."

[ Related: Canadian politicians are awfully casual about history with marijuana ]

This certainly could be problematic for a potential 'Prime Minister Justin Trudeau' who might have to go to the United States to meet with a potential 'President Hillary Clinton' or Jeb Bush in a few years.

Trudeau's office did not response to a query about his potential border problem.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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