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Coming clean about drug use can bar you from the U.S.

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It is relatively common for people in the Greater Toronto Area to make the drive to the United States. It is only a few hours away and heading to the States for a few days is a relatively easy vacation. There are relatively few restrictions on Canadians that want to go across the border, but American immigration may not allow anyone in who has been convicted of drug crimes or admitted to using drugs.

According to U.S. immigration law, someone who has committed an action of “moral turpitude” can be barred from entering the country. While most people would (rightfully) think of heinous, brutal crimes as being morally turpitudinous, the idea that recreational use of marijuana is a crime of moral turpitude may seem a bit of a stretch.

Over the past several months, there have been several high-profile Canadians who have admitted to using drugs, including Rob Ford and Justin Trudeau. Should American border guards choose, they could permanently stop them from ever getting into the United States. The only way to get around this ban would be to apply for a special waiver, but these waivers are notoriously difficult to come by.

While many people in North York may think they aren’t at risk of such a ban because their drug use was not covered by the media like Trudeau’s admission, they may be wrong. Even if they don’t have any drug convictions, they could be stopped for having pictures on social media or even refer to using drugs.

For anyone charged with a drug crime, it may be important to consult with a criminal defence lawyer about what sorts of travel restrictions they may face in the future.

Source: Canada.com, “Justin Trudeau’s pot admission may come back to haunt him at the U.S. border,” Ishmael N. Daro, 3 Sept. 2013

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