Legal cannabis use could still get you banned at the border, U.S. confirms

By Patrick Cain National Online Journalist, News  Global News

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 5.58.23 PM.png

Canadians may be banned from entering the U.S. for legally using marijuana in Canada if a border officer decides that they are likely to consume it in the United States, American border officials told reporters Tuesday.

READ MORE: Will legal cannabis users be able to cross the U.S. border? ‘It’s anyone’s guess,’ lawyer says

“If someone admits to smoking frequently in Canada, then that will play into the officer’s admissibility decision about whether they think, on this specific trip, they are also likely to engage in smoking marijuana in the United States as well,” said Todd Owen, a senior official with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“It’s now legal in Canada, so it comes down to whether the officer believes they may engage in the same activity while in the United States, based on the intent and purpose of their trip, as opposed to the legal engagement within Canada.”

However, U.S. border officials will make a distinction between whether a Canadian’s past marijuana use was before or after legalization, he said.

“When they are questioned by the officer during the interview process, if illegal drug use comes up, it could come down to pre-legalization or post-legalization, and the officer will make the corresponding decision about admissibility based on that.”

However, Owen also said he “would not expect that officers would be routinely asking people about their marijuana use.”

Owen also said that past marijuana convictions in Canada would continue to be a basis in being banned from the U.S., even if the person had later been pardoned in Canada, or if marijuana convictions were expunged in an amnesty.

“We don’t recognize the Canadian amnesty. That would still make you inadmissible into our country.”

Canadians can be banned from entering the United States for being an ‘abuser’ of marijuana. Asked how officers would decide what level of use constituted abuse, Owen would only say that if would be “based on the facts and circumstances of the inspection, and based on what the officer gleans from the inspection process.”

READ MORE: In major shift, the U.S. says it won’t ban Canadian pot workers

While a growing number of states have legalized recreational marijuana at the state level, it remains illegal at the federal level, and Canadians can be banned from using it in states such as California or Oregon, or admitting at the border that they plan to.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has refused to disclose how many Canadians have been banned from entering the United States due to marijuana use.

People banned at the U.S. border can apply for a “waiver” to let them cross. But the process is time-consuming, expensive — the fee recently rose to US$930 — and the process has to be started from scratch every few years for the rest of the person’s life.

Linda Hepner delivers final State of the City address as Surrey mayor

Hepner announced that the city plans to hire a director of housing to come up with and execute a "made-in-Surrey" housing strategy.

JENNIFER SALTMAN Updated: September 19, 2018

The City of Surrey plans to hire a director of housing to develop and execute a housing strategy for the growing municipality.

“I think a housing director, at this point in Surrey’s history, is going to be critical,” Mayor Linda Hepner said on Wednesday, following her fourth and final State of the City address.

Hepner said a lack of affordable housing was not only a Vancouver problem — it’s a problem for the entire region. Surrey needed to have a strategy that looks at what kinds of projects were needed, she said, and it had to be tailored to the city.

“I think that what we’ve always been is a place where people can see themselves and their families growing, so I think as we’ve grown that now is the right time for a housing director,” Hepner said, pointing out that most big cities had such a position.

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 5.19.15 PM.png

She couldn’t say whether the position would be filled before the municipal election takes place on Oct. 20, but she expected the process would be underway by then.

Housing was one topic Hepner touched on during her wide-ranging speech, which for the most part read like a love letter to the city she has served — first as city staff, then councillor and finally as mayor — for more than 30 years.

After one term as mayor, Hepner is not running for re-election.

She reflected on the changes that had taken place over the past three decades, including skyrocketing population and more festivals and park space, as well as the development of post-secondary institutions.

Hepner touched on achievements during her tenure. At the top of the list was the removal of a tent city on 135A Street and the rehousing of its residents, the recent release of a report from the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention, and the addition of 134 RCMP officers along with the hiring of a public safety director.

On policing, Hepner said it’s time to have a broader discussion about policing in the city, and what kind of police force Surrey should have.

“When you have episodes of tragedy in your community, there’s a lot of emotion and during an election period it escalates into fear mongering. I would just hope that everybody is prepared to look at it with a full-on study with facts and analysis, and let’s make the best decision for a growing community,” she said after her address.

Another hot election issue was the debate over whether Surrey should ditch its plan to build at-grade light rail in favour of SkyTrain, even though LRT was fully funded and procurement had started. She called it a done deal and said she found the debate incredibly frustrating.

“I think elections are always driven by different points of view — and that’s healthy — but I think that sometimes we get lost in the minutia of language and we don’t settle into what is the reality of fact,” she said.

Hepner said in her speech that she hoped the next mayor and council would work together and lead the city into its “next great chapter.”

If Hepner were to leave a note for the next mayor, it would be “short and sweet and in big, bold letters,” she said, becoming tearful.

“Be good to this city, because it is headed for greatness.”

What you need to know to survive the haze from B.C. wildfires

By and Aaron McArthur Global News

With wildfires raging across British Columbia, a thick blanket of smoke has covered much of the province along with neighbouring Alberta, Saskatchewan and even parts of Manitoba.

Environment Canada has issued dozens of air quality advisories for the four provinces, and in the B.C. communities of Williams Lake, Quesnel and Castlegar, the air quality health index has reached 10, or “very high risk.


In many communities, residents have taken to wearing face masks, and the haze has been thick enough to blot the sun out hours before sunset.

In Prince George, B.C., ash has been falling like snow, while Calgary and Edmonton have been enveloped in an eerie orange haze.

“It’s been difficult, to say the least. Even sleeping at night is trouble, even with the windows closed and with the air on,” said Lorna Burns, a Kamloops delivery driver who suffers from mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“It’s tricky, but the job’s got to be done.”

Health experts are advising people to avoid strenuous exercise and stay indoors as much as possible. If you’re able to invest in a HEPA air filter to clean the air indoors, all the better.

“Take frequent breaks, try to get inside, if you’re on a break, into an area where the air isn’t quite as contaminated,” said Dr. Todd Ring with the Royal Inland Hospital.


For those who have no choice but to work or travel outdoors, a respirator with an N-95 rating can be effective. Homemade solutions are less reliable.

“Wearing a cloth mask or bandanna or something like that, it offers a slight bit of protection. But really, it’s not very effective,” air quality expert Michael Brauer told Global News.

Cloth surgical masks can actually make things worse, he said, because they provide the illusion of protection but actually just make it harder to breathe.

At London Drugs, pharmacies across the regional chain are reporting a sharp uptick in complaints linked to air quality and are scrambling to fill inhaler prescriptions.

Pharmacy general manager Chris Chiew said it’s important for people to know their limitations.

“Younger children, the elderly or anyone who is asthmatic definitely has to be careful to make sure they have their inhalers close by,” he said.

“Actually, stay away from anywhere where there is a high amount of smoke, so if it is outside, make sure they stay indoors as much as they can,” Chiew added.

According to Environment Canada, people with respiratory illnesses and heart disease are particularly susceptible to air pollution.

People with diabetes are also at risk, as are young children, pregnant women, seniors and anyone with a chronic illness.

The agency says that under hazardous air quality conditions, susceptible people can also reduce risk by taking the following steps:

  • Reduce or reschedule outdoor physical activities
  • Monitor possible symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, coughing or irritated eyes
  • Follow a doctor’s advice to manage existing conditions such as heart or lung disease