As the tide of cannabis legalization sweeps the world, and the United States, many people are going with the flow and taking up cannabis tourism. After all, it’s not just Amsterdam anymore. Thailand, South Africa and even Portugal have recently legalized cannabis, and dozens more countries have decriminalized cannabis. With that said, you should still be very careful how you go about documenting your smoky, stoned adventures.
Part of the popularity of social media outlets like Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is down to the fact that users can document their lives, and vacations, all in stunning high definition. But there’s a catch, especially if you’re coming to the United States.
Current US law allows for agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to review the phones and electronic devices of people coming into the country (or leaving it) at the border.
You don’t have to grant them access to your device, but the customs agent can deny you entry on the basis of that refusal. Additionally, if you do submit to the review and they discover evidence (e.g., photos, posts) of cannabis use (or any other drugs), they can deny your entry on the grounds that you may consume cannabis inside the US, which still violates US federal law even though cannabis is legal in many US states.
As a foreign national, you are required to abide by both federal and state laws on your visit to the US. That means that in spite of cannabis being legal in dozens of states, you are still violating federal law by using it there (or any other state where cannabis is legal or decriminalized). The inspection provision also applies to your electronic devices upon exiting the US.
Imagine for example, that you went to Coachella and took a picture of you and your friends smoking a joint, or posted a picture of a 3 gram flower on your instagram. If a customs agent discovered that picture during an inspection of your phone before allowing you to leave the country, they can cancel your ETSA visa and ban you from returning to the United States for having violated US law during your trip.
It may sound unfair, or even arbitrary because the searches are random, but it’s still the law. So, if you’re a cannabis user who’s planning a trip to the United States, be sure to scrub your phone (and social media feeds) of any compromising pictures before you arrive and in advance of your departure. The failure to do so could create a lot of headaches for both you and your traveling companions.
G13 Club is a private social club for medical and recreational cannabis users based in Barcelona. It is also a space for musical and artistic development that promotes a multitude of activities focused on the expression and exhibition of urban, hip hop, reggae and skate culture.