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Marijuana activist detained and denied entry to Canada

by papapuff » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:33 pm

Press Herald

September 9,2017

Marijuana activist detained and denied entry to Canada

Paul McCarrier says the reason was for an arrest in 2008 that was dismissed by a judge


A leading activist for marijuana legalization says he was detained at the Canadian border on Monday and denied entry after agents determined he had been arrested during a 2008 protest in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Paul McCarrier, the president of Legalize Maine, a nonprofit advocacy group that helped to pass statewide ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Maine in 2016, posted on Facebook that he had been denied entry to Canada at the Coburn Gore border crossing in northern Franklin County on Labor Day.

McCarrier, who was traveling on vacation with his girlfriend, says border agents mentioned his role with the pro-marijuana organization while they searched the couple’s belongings and vehicle, and that he believes it played a role in his treatment.

In a subsequent post, McCarrier’s girlfriend mentions the agents determined who McCarrier was when they saw his title on a business card among their possessions.

“It looks like we won’t be heading to Canada,” McCarrier wrote on his Facebook page Monday. “Detained at the border for almost two hours – and denied entry for a protest arrest from 9 years ago! Apparently, being arrested but then acquitted by a judge is the same thing as being convicted in the eyes of some bureaucrap. Oh and our car was searched and all our belongings torn through and left open. I’ll refrain from any other choice words right now. We won’t let this stop us and are working on Plan B. I’ll see my favorite band this week – no effed up policy will stop that… stay tuned.”

The organization Legalize Maine advocates for small marijuana growers. In addition to his involvement with the 2016 ballot question initiative, McCarrier is a registered lobbyist at the State House in Augusta.

McCarrier said he had intended to travel to Montreal to see the band Depeche Mode. In messages to the Press Herald Thursday, McCarrier declined to comment on the situation, noting he was working with an attorney to get a waiver from Canadian authorities so that he could travel to Canada in the future.

But McCarrier did say he believed his role as president for Legalize Maine was a “factor” and explained he had been arrested during a protest against then President George W. Bush during the Republican Party’s national convention that year in Minnesota.

According to media reports from the incident and subsequent court case McCarrier was among a group of more than 200 protesters charged with obstructing legal process, disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly and blocking traffic.

McCarrier said a judge ultimately dismissed the charges against the protesters, but that didn’t seem to have any bearing on the decision by officials to deny him entry to Canada. Media reports from the time also confirmed that a Ramsay County judge dismissed the charges against the protesters. McCarrier also noted he wasn’t bringing any marijuana into Canada and was not charged by Canadian authorities with any crime.

It was not immediately clear whether McCarrier’s experience was an isolated incident or if he was caught up in new screening standards at the border.

Other Mainers have also encountered close scrutiny by Canadian border officials, including being detained for hours before being either turned around and denied entry or being allowed to travel, sometimes based on arrest records from several years or even decades ago.

But Caitlyn Hamilton, a communications officer for the Atlantic Region of Canada’s Border Service Agency said in an email Thursday there had been no recent change in policy, prompting any crackdowns on Americans with previous arrest records.

“There have been no changes to admissibility requirements for those entering Canada. All persons seeking entry into Canada must present themselves to the CBSA and meet the necessary requirements to enter and/or stay in Canada,” Hamilton wrote. “Admissibility to Canada is considered on a case-by-case basis and is based on information that is available to our officers at the time of entry. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act clearly defines reasons for inadmissibility. Several factors are used in determining inadmissibility, including involvement in criminal activity, health reasons, misrepresentation, or non-compliance with the Act.”

Canada has long denied those previously convicted of operating under the influence from entering the country without a special waiver.

Hamilton confirmed Thursday a process was in place that could allow for entry with “rehabilitation approval” or proof of a pardon.

McCarrier and his girlfriend ultimately turned around and drove to Washington, D.C., where they were set to see Depeche Mode play Thursday night.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:
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