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Trudeau government suggests most Canadian marijuana users and employees won't face problems at US border

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WASHINGTON – The Canadian government does not think legal marijuana users, workers and investors will face widespread problems crossing into the United States despite a U.S. warning that they will continue to risk being barred, a Canadian spokesperson suggested on Friday.

Senior U.S. border official Todd Owen told the website Politico that the U.S. will not do anything to accommodate Canada’s imminent marijuana legalization. Owen said Canadians who earn money from the industry or consume its products will still face the possibility of being deemed inadmissible.

“We don’t recognize that as a legal business,” said Owen, executive assistant commissioner for the office of field operations.

But border officers have considerable discretion, and they do not ask most travellers about their drug use or their occupation. A spokesperson for Bill Blair, the Canadian minister of border security, suggested that the government does not expect large-scale U.S. hassling after legalization takes effect on Oct. 17.

A spokesperson for Bill Blair, the Canadian minister of border security, suggested that the government does not expect large-scale U.S. hassling after legalization takes effect on Oct. 17.

The government did not offer any criticism of the U.S. policy. Blair’s office, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself earlier in the week, suggested that the government would not lobby the U.S. for changes — though Blair’s office did not say this directly.

“The United States has the sovereign jurisdiction to deal with people crossing the border into their country, just as we have the same powers for those entering into Canada,” the spokesperson said.

The Star contacted 15 Canadian companies in the cannabis industry on Thursday and Friday. In an indication of industry concern about the policy, only one person was willing to speak on the record.

Terry Lake, the former B.C. Liberal health minister who is now a vice-president at cannabis company HEXO Corp., said the issue has been “largely overblown.” He said he has crossed the border without incident since he joined the industry.

“I haven’t heard of this being widespread,” Lake said. “So I don’t think there’s any sort of systematic approach by the U.S. border services to target people. I think it very much is an individual situation, that the individual officer makes a judgment call.”

There are a smattering of known cases in which Canadians with ties to the U.S. legal marijuana industry have been given lifetime bans. They include venture capitalist Sam Znaimer and executives of a B.C. agricultural equipment company.

Any admission of past drug use makes someone “inadmissible to the United States,” a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a Friday email, and “working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry… may affect a foreign national’s admissibility to the United States.”

But border officers do not ask most travellers about their drug use or their occupation.

“It’s definitely on people’s radars, but you have to realize there are scores of Canadians coming in and out of the U.S. in this industry on a weekly basis, and the number of incidents we’ve heard about is very minimal,” said Chris Walsh, founding editor and vice-president of Denver-based Marijuana Business Daily.

Others connected to the industry remain uneasy, partly because the U.S. government has refused to provide clarity about what kind of investment or employment in a cannabis company might get someone barred. Such companies are publicly traded on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.

A Canadian lawyer who advises these companies would only speak on condition of anonymity to avoid producing more Google results connecting the lawyer to the industry. Before a recent family vacation in the U.S., the lawyer “scrubbed” their phone and tablet of information about their work.

“I’m worried that I will be subject to a ban,” the lawyer said. “I can’t give them any other ways to find me than they already can.”

Despite their view that there have not been major problems to date, both Walsh and Lake said it would be ideal if the Canadian government could convince the U.S. government to provide legal assurances to people in the industry.

“That would be very helpful for all of us, and take away some uncertainty. But again, until we see it become a widespread issue, there’s probably little incentive on their part to do that,” Lake said.

Pressed on whether they would seek any U.S. changes, the Blair spokesperson said: “Officials have discussed the changes to our cannabis laws in virtually every conversation that they have with their American counterparts, including the previous and current Secretary of Homeland Security. We want to make sure that the United States fully understands how we are changing the law and the reasoning behind it.”

In a CBC interview on Tuesday, Trudeau said he “certainly won’t” try to “impress upon the U.S. who they have to let in or not.”

Owen told Politico that officers would not begin to ask every Canadian about marijuana use. They might ask, Owen said, if “other questions lead there,” or “if there is a smell coming from the car,” or if a dog detects marijuana residue.

Canadian marijuana users who are asked about their drug use can choose to remain silent rather than offering an admission. Their silence may get them turned away that day but may help them avoid a permanent ban.

Asked what advice the government would give legal users, the Blair spokesperson said: “Although the possession of cannabis is legal in some U.S. states, cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law. Canadians who wish to enter the United States or any other country have to adhere to its laws. Previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S. Involvement in the legal cannabis industry in Canada could also result in your being denied entry.”

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8

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With man's fatal shooting, 2018 ties for Toronto's deadliest year on record

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With the shooting death of a man in Toronto‘s west end Wednesday morning, the total number of homicides in the city this year has tied with a record high number of deaths set almost three decades ago.

Emergency crews were called to Ann Arbour Road, a residential side street east of Weston and Albion roads, shortly after midnight.

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“We received several 911 calls for the sound of gunshots,” Toronto Police Duty Inspector Jim Gotell told reporters early Wednesday morning.

“Police attended the scene and we located a vehicle with a male victim inside who had been shot.”


READ MORE:
Looking back at 1991, Toronto’s record year for murders

A police spokesperson said officers tried to perform life-saving measures, but the victim didn’t have any vital signs.

A Toronto Paramedics spokesperson said the victim, who is believed to be in his 20s, was shot in the head numerous times.

Paramedics rushed the man to a trauma centre.


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Gotell said officers were canvassing the neighbourhood looking for evidence and surveillance. Members of the canine and forensic identification units were called in to assist with the investigation.

Police hadn’t released details about suspects as of early Wednesday morning.


Wednesday’s shooting came as Toronto has been plagued with many high-profile gun incidents in 2018.

The man’s death is the city’s 89th homicide. Toronto police said the record for the highest number of homicides in a single year, 89, was set in 1991.

Meanwhile, anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-3100 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

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Shooting in Humberlea leaves 1 male dead: police

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Codi Wilson, CP24.com</span>


Published Wednesday, November 14, 2018 5:13AM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2018 6:00AM EST

One male has died in hospital following a shooting in Humberlea overnight.

Police were called to the area of Ann Arbour Road, located near Albion and Weston roads, at around midnight after residents in the area reported hearing the sound of gunshots.

Officers from 31 Division quickly responded to the scene and found a male in the driver’s seat of a Chrysler 200.

"We located a vehicle here and inside the vehicle we located a male who had been shot," Duty Insp. Jim Gotell told CP24 at the scene on Wednesday morning.

The sergeant who first responded to the shooting performed CPR on the victim, who was without vital signs after sustaining a gunshot wound to the neck.

"The male was taken by ambulance to Sunnybrook Hospital but unfortunately he was pronounced dead," Gotell said.

Police have not yet released the name or age of the victim but say he did not reside in the area where he was found.

"At this point in time, the investigation is now being turned over to the homicide squad," Gotell said.

Homicide Det. Mike Carbone is leading the investigation.

"We have our police dogs. We have out forensics people. We are currently investigating what happened," Gotell added.

Bullet holes were visible in one of the doors of the Chrysler.

Investigators have not provided any information on possible suspects but witnesses reported seeing a person running through backyards in the area.

The fatal shooting is Toronto’s 89th homicide of 2018.

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Man shot to death in north end is Toronto's 89th homicide this year — tying grim record set in 1991

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A male was shot to death overnight Wednesday in north Toronto, marking the city's 89th homicide of this year — tying a grim statistical record that has stood for nearly three decades. 

Police were called to the area of Albion and Weston roads around midnight after some 10 gunshots were reported. 

Officers found one male victim badly injured and "without vital signs." He was taken to a trauma centre, where he later died of his wounds. 

Police did not have information about possible suspects.

Homicide detectives were at the scene early Wednesday. 

The victim's death brings to the total of slayings in Toronto this year to 89, a figure that has stood as the most homicides in a single year in the city. It was set in 1991. 

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