EDITORIAL – The question that shouldn’t be asked at U.S. border

(Image: U.S. Customs & Border Protection,

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE SAD STATE of Canada-U.S. relations is no more obvious than in the marijuana border rule.

Let me explain. Recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Canada later this year. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in several of the United States, including the state of Washington.

But at the federal level in the U.S., it remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

So, just because it will be legal in Canada doesn’t mean a thing when Canadians are crossing the border into the U.S.

If a U.S. immigration officer asks if you’ve ever smoked marijuana, what do you say?

‘One of the major questions that people have been asking about Bill C-45 is whether they should tell the truth or lie about their previous cannabis use after the bill has passed. However, the best option is simply to not answer at all.

— Senator Mobina Jaffer

According to Liberal MP Bill Blair, if the answer is yes, you should tell U.S. border officers the truth about it. So does Liberal MP Mark Holland.

But some lawyers say that could get you banned from the U.S. for life, even after legalization in Canada. And if you get caught for lying — same thing.

If you toked up in the past year, or 30 years ago during your hippy dippy days, is there a difference as far as the U.S. is concerned? I don’t know, but I do know U.S. border security officers have a lot of leeway in what they enforce and how they enforce it, and that we as Canadians have no rights at the border.

Canadian Senator Mobina Jaffer, who sits on the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, says, “The best option is simply not to answer at all.”

If you try again the next, day, or the next week or month, she and the lawyers say, chances are you won’t get the same immigration officer and might not be asked.

Which won’t be much consolation if you’ve already spent thousands of dollars on reservations and travel arrangements for a specific date.

This is an unacceptable situation. Canadian citizens spend millions on tourism and shopping in the United States every year. The Americans need to wake up to reality, and Canadian politicians need to give them a good shake.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (7763 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – The question that shouldn’t be asked at U.S. border

  1. Richard Carlson // May 22, 2018 at 10:48 PM // Reply

    The best answer: Q – Have you ever smoked marijuana?
    A – No, why, you got some?

    • That’s funny, BUT, it will get you turned around quicker than just saying yes. US border officials have always had a lot of power, but under Trump, it seems like it is unlimited now, and they love using it.

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