The same day that Canada legalized recreational marijuana, a Barcelona cannabis club president was detained, interrogated, threatened, had 12,000 Euro permanently confiscated, and was summarily banned from Canada forever, simply because he presides over a legitimate private cannabis club in Barcelona, Spain. This article is an important read for anyone in the cannabis industries that intends to travel to Canada; consider this a warning.
Barcelona Cannabis Club President Detained, Interrogated for 8 Hours, Permanently Banned from Canada
The same day Canada legalized marijuana for recreational use, authorities at the Vancouver airport detained a Barcelona cannabis club president and his wife. During a search of the man’s carry-on luggage, customs agents found a business card with the words “Club XYZ,” an address, and the man’s name, who we’ll call “Michael.”
Customs Agents Were Suspicious
Authorities immediately became suspicious, and asked Michael exactly what kind of club the card referred to. Thinking that honesty was his best option, and because the agents had already taken his phone and were attempting to look through it (and would likely find out the nature of the club anyway), Michael responded that he was the president of a legal cannabis club in Barcelona.
Canadian authorities hastily separated Michael from his wife; both were brought to interrogation rooms, where they underwent 8 hours of questioning, accusations, and threats. The customs agents grilled Michael about his club, asking exactly how it works, how do members of the association acquire the cannabis, how much money is charged, and many more details that, quite frankly, Canadian police have no business collecting in regard to operations in Spain.
The customs agents continually asked about the legal status of cannabis in Spain, but although Michael told them correctly that the country enjoys Constitutional protections that permit the consumption of cannabis and the development of cannabis social clubs, the agents insisted that Michael was dead-wrong, and that everything he told them was incorrect.
After all, Canadian customs agents are experts regarding cannabis laws in Spain.
Because Michael’s Barcelona cannabis club receives reimbursement from members for marijuana the club grows, Canadian authorities informed Michael that this was illegal activity in Spain, and therefore that he was the leader of a criminal organization. They threatened to arrest him, although failed to specify on what grounds, and then referred his case to the local immigration chief. Meanwhile, the agents insisted that the money Michael and his wife were carrying; about 12,000 Euro, was drug money, and that the funds would be confiscated.
Canadian airport security then began demanding access to Michael’s password-protected phone. Michael refused until the agents advised him that, under Canadian law, if he did not cooperate, he could be held indefinitely and possibly even charged with an immigration crime. Michael relented and gave his password to the agents.
With access to all of Michael’s messages, contacts, banking information, and more, customs agents began to aggressively interrgoate him. They referred to the money in his bank accounts after breaching those accounts, discussed details about the club’s computer systems and member database, which they also accessed, and even questioned Michael about his rent payment, his landlord (they accused his landlord of also being a “criminal” after they investigated the man), and the recent messages in his various social media accounts.
Who is Russ Hudson?
At one point, customs agents interrogated Michael about this author.
“Who is Russ Hudson?” they asked pointedly after seeing we had exchanged Facebook messages about Michael’s trip to Vancouver.
As a cannabis consultant, Michael had asked me to connect him to people that work in the cannabis industry in that part of Canada. I had responded only briefly, and fortunately did not mention any names before the authorities accessed Michael’s mobile phone.
Michael informed the agents who I was and said that my profile is public, and that they could simply look me up. The agents assured Michael that they were going to investigate me.
After many hours of interrogation and separation from his wife, who was also questioned heavily, it became clear to Michael that Canadian authorities were urgently trying to come up with enough “evidence” to arrest him on immigration violations. Agents referred to the idea that Michael was coming to Canada illegally, to conduct illegal activity, and threatened him with a prison sentence.
In desperation, Michael suddenly changed his story.
He told the agents that he wasn’t really the president of the cannabis club in Barcelona, and that instead, he had stolen access to the accounts and other data for the club, and that he had been siphoning off resources and stealing money from the association. He confessed that the 12,000 Euro he and his wife had brought with them was in fact money they had stolen from the Barcelona cannabis club, and he even broke down and cried a little to make the act seem as real as possible.
Agents bought the story. They said;
Oh, so you’re just a common criminal then? A thief?
“Yes.” Michael lied.
At that point, the Canadian authorities immediately forced Michael and his wife to return to their point of origin in Europe. The agents kept the 12,000 Euro and told Michael that no further investigations or reports would be made, as they weren’t interested in a thief and they were not obligated to report his supposed crimes to Spanish authorities.
So, if you’re committing fraud and grand larceny, and you take stolen funds to Canada, you won’t get in too much trouble. But if you’re the president of a legitimate cannabis club in a country that has nothing to do with Canada, you could be detained, interrogated, arrested, and/or jailed. And if you have any cash, expect to lose it all, with no recourse to get it back.
This incident occurred the same day Canada legalized recreational marijuana. This means that, at the time of Michael’s detainment, both medical and recreational cannabis were (technically) legal in Canada. And Michael’s operations in Spain are also legal. Yet, he still was separated from his wife, interrogated for hours, lost 12,000 Euro, and was banned from Canada – forever.
Let this be a warning to anyone who works in the cannabis industry anywhere in the world; if you’re flying into Canada, you’d better be prepared. This means that your phone, computer, and any sensitive documents like business cards should all be placed in your CHECKED BAGGAGE. Carry nothing through security that could identify you as someone who works in the cannabis industry. And if for some reason you’re questioned about your involvement with marijuana, the most recent cases like this coming out of Canada all seem to indicate that it’s best to just lie.