Temporary Residents and Admissibility to Canada
Foreign Marijuana Convictions
With the legalization of Marijuana in Canada on October 17, 2018, and the passing of the Cannabis Act (CA), it is important to understand that the wording of the current provisions may create stricter treatment of foreign marijuana convictions. Under the previous Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) possession of small amounts of marijuana was considered a summary offence (it took two summary offences to render the foreign national inadmissible to Canada). However under the current CA all foreign marijuana offences are now indictable; as a result, one single conviction can now trigger inadmissibility.
In-Canada Impaired Driving Convictions
Accompanying the legalization of cannabis in Canada are stricter laws and penalties which take effect December 18, 2018, on those who:
- Drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs including cannabis, or
- Commit cannabis-related crimes
As a result, most impaired driving offences are considered serious crimes in Canada with the maximum penalty increases from 5 years to 10 years. Since serious criminality can affect temporary residents’ admissibility to Canada, these new penalties may result in temporary residents (visitors, international students, foreign workers) not being able to enter or stay in Canada. Permanent residents may also lose their status and be asked to leave Canada if convicted.
Cannabis Legalization and Travelling
Travelling Within Canada
Prior to travelling, make sure to inform yourself about the laws in the provinces, territories, and cities you plan to visit around cannabis possession and use including:
- What are the limits on cannabis possession
- What are the age restrictions on cannabis possession and consumption
- Where can cannabis be purchased legally
- What are the provincial and municipal laws around consumption (e.g., fully allowed, allowed with restrictions or prohibited in public)
More information on the different laws around cannabis possession and use within Canada.
Travelling Outside Canada
When travelling from Canada to another country, you need to consider:
- It is still illegal to transport cannabis into or out of any Canadian Port of Entry (e.g., Border Crossing, International Airports) regardless of quantity even if it was used for medical purposes
- You should be aware that admitting to legal cannabis use while in Canada upon entry to another country can result in the traveler being denied entry into that country
- While possession of cannabis is legal in some US states, it is still illegal under US federal laws so avoid travelling to the US with any amount
- Previous use of cannabis or any substance prohibited by US federal laws could result in your entry into the US being denied
- Avoid travelling with luggage that has previously transported or contained cannabis