A Canadian woman carrying a bottle of CBD oil was recently barred from entering into the United States at the border. What might seem like a lifetime ban has been reversed completely by the United States, says her lawyer after calling it the “best-case scenario” which could possibly happen in this situation.
The 21-year-old was crossing the border between B.C. and Washington state in August, when CBD oil was discovered in her luggage.
The young woman was carrying CBD oil for treating the painful side-effects of scoliosis- a structural deformity which causes a sideways curvature of the spine. She said that she thought it was OK for her to carry the CBD oil across the border as the United States legalized hemp derived cannabidiol in December 2018.
Despite the federal law supporting hemp derived cannabis production, cultivation and sales, cannabis possession remains a criminal offence under the federal law and the U.S. border strictly adheres to federal regulations.
The woman found with the CBD oil is an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph in Ontario. She was fined $500 for failing to declare the oil, fingerprinted and eventually was denied entry into the United States.
She was told by the officials that if she ever planned on coming to the United States again, she’d have to pay an additional charge of $585 to apply for a special waiver, a document which is required for all the people who are denied entry after deportation or removal.
A complete Reversal – 180 degree turn on the case
Len Saunders had been working with the woman on her CBD case, and assisted her in filling out the applications, when she was unexpectedly contacted at the Point Roberts, Wash.., the point of entry by a supervisor and told her inadmissibility case was reversed and that she would no longer be needed to apply for the waiver.
Saunders admitted that he was taken aback on the decision. In what seemed like a case that could get the woman barred for her life from entering the United States, it took a complete 180 degree turn when they had on their own reviewed the case and just reversed it.
Neither Saunders, nor the woman was given a reason for the reversal by the port of entry.
Saunders said he didn’t have any idea if the officials had decided by themselves that having CBD oil isn’t the same as having cannabis or THC. Also, this case has highlighted concerns regarding international borders and cannabis laws around them.
CBD oil primarily contains cannabinoids and traces of THC (tetrahydro cannabidiol), the psychoactive component found in marijuana which leads to hallucinations and causes uses to experience a feeling of euphoria when they smoke weed or pot.
The United States federal government has legalized hemp derived cannabinoids with a maximum level of 0.3% THC per unit or product, above which it is considered as an illegal and controlled substance.
Confusion arises with dynamic CBD laws
The Canada Border Services Agency said on its website that transporting cannabis across borders in any form- including any oils containing CBD (cannabinoid) or THC (tetrahydro cannabinoid) without a permit or exemption authorized by the Health Canada remains a critical issue and is considered as a serious criminal offence, regardless of legalization.
But, Saunders pointed out that the government has not done a good job at educating people about CBD and travelling with CBD based products, and that regulations remain a moving target.
He suggested people to be cautious while coming to the United States with cannabis oil as the regulations regarding CBD are quite fragile as well as dynamic. It’s possible to carry CBD oil over the border this month, however it might just become totally illegal the next month.
Saunders said that her client has returned to Ontario and she is immensely relieved by how the case turned out. He is also working with a Canadian man on a similar case where the alleged was travelling from Tokyo to the United States with two bottles of CBD oil. The man was detained at Seattle’s airport for several hours after customs officials discovered the CBD bottles.
Saunder plans to reach out to the department of Customs and Border Protection at the Seattle Sea-Tac Airport to see if the case could be reversed, just as in case of the woman. He finally concluded by saying that the application of law needs to be consistent through all the borders, no matter what.