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How can a cannabis conviction affect immigration status?

Region: Ontario Answer # 689

Under the Federal Cannabis Act, recreational use of cannabis is legal for adults, with certain conditions and regulations. Permanent and temporary residents who commit cannabis related offences could face significant consequences that may affect their immigration status in Canada.

These new offences include:

  • committing cannabis-related crimes:
    • illegally producing, distributing or selling cannabis
    • illegally importing or exporting cannabis or cannabis-related products across Canada’s international borders, and
  • driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including cannabis

How do cannabis laws affect immigration status?

Anyone who commits a cannabis-related crime or impaired driving offence faces penalties that may include fines, criminal charges or jail. However, cannabis related charges might also result in an individual being inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality under Canada’s immigration laws.

This is possible if the crime happened both inside and outside Canada. In addition to penalties individuals face under both provincial and federal cannabis laws:

Permanent residents 

  • may lose their PR status and have to leave the country

Temporary residents (including visitors, international students and foreign workers)

  • may no longer be able to enter or stay in Canada

Refugee claimants 

  • may no longer be eligible to have their claim referred to a refugee hearing

Permanent residents and foreign nationals (including sponsored members of the family class) who are appealing an immigration decision could also be affected.

For more information on Cannabis Law, refer to other sections of Legal Line.


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