The Hypocrisy of Marijuana Criminal Inadmissibility at the United States Border

Recently, Canadians experienced a small uproar when a few good citizens were refused entry at the United States border. The uproar was due to the fact that someone who admits to using marijuana will be deemed inadmissible to the United States.

Even though it’s been standard policy for as long as I can remember the Canadian government plans to argue the case with the American government. Presumably it will involve the Department of Homeland Security which I’ve heard is a rather stubborn agency to deal with.

We have a lot to argue of course. For example, marijuana users are non-violent, they contribute to the economy, and they aren’t prone the kind of lewd public behaviour we expect from some of those who drink too much. Generally speaking, marijuana users cause about as much trouble as the shy kid at school who wants to be left alone.

This is why it makes no sense that someone who smoked some pot should be prohibited from crossing the border. Yet here we are fretting over a minor injustice that, in my experience, happens almost every day.

But the real injustice at the American Border is not that people who admit to criminal activity (yes, marijuana is still illegal) should be denied entry at the border. The real injustice is some of the people who are allowed to pass freely.

Just about any criminal record will get you banned from the United States and once banned you will need a mountain of tedious paperwork to return. But there are a few exceptions and the most notable is for those convicted of a DUI.

A DUI is what the American government calls an “admissible offence” meaning anyone convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is ok to cross the border.

Imagine the confused logic required to come up with this dichotomy, let alone sustain it. We don’t even need to argue that marijuana is relatively harmless, that the war on drugs is a failure, that people minding their own business should be allowed to do so if it doesn’t hurt anyone else. All we need to do is look at the statistics.

In 2014 alone approximately ten thousand people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.   And that’s just the motor vehicle related deaths. Not the health related ones.

On the other hand not a single death from marijuana overdose has ever been recorded, although I’d bet it’s caused a few vehicle related tragedies. Clearly, people should not be intoxicated while operating a vehicle.

But to the American government not only thinks drinking is ok, it thinks drinking and driving is pretty much ok – as long as you promise not to do it again. But smoke a joint in the comfort of your own home and you’re a criminal, treated the same way as anyone convicted of assault, fraud, armed robbery, manslaughter and so forth.

The absurdity of marijuana prohibition is a point that no longer deserves an argument. And it’s the same with drinking and driving. The danger is real. The debate is over.

I don’t think our government will get anywhere with this issue but it’s worth a shot because really, why not? And besides, it’s time for our neighbours to realize that it’s 2016.

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