New impaired driving and marijuana-related penalties could affect immigration status
Ottawa, October 22, 2018— Canada has made marijuana (cannabis) legally available to adults under strict new laws. We’re also imposing tough new penalties on those who:
- drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including cannabis, or
- commit cannabis-related crimes
The new cannabis-related penalties took effect on October 17, 2018. Cannabis-related crimes include:
- illegally producing, distributing or selling cannabis
- illegally importing or exporting cannabis or cannabis-related products across Canada’s international borders
Most cannabis-related crimes will have a maximum penalty of 14 years.
On December 18, 2018, the impaired driving penalties will take effect. Most impaired driving offences will then be considered serious crimes in Canada. The maximum penalty for most impaired driving offences will increase from 5 to 10 years.
The impact of these new penalties on permanent and temporary residents could be significant.
How you could be affected
If you commit an impaired driving or a cannabis-related crime, you could face a fine, criminal charges or jail. However, we may also find you inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. It doesn’t matter if the crime happened inside or outside Canada. This means:
- permanent residents may lose their status and have to leave the country
- temporary residents (including visitors, international students and foreign workers) may not be able to enter or stay in Canada
- refugee claimants may not be eligible to have their claim referred for a refugee hearing
Appeal rights for permanent residents and foreign nationals, including sponsored members of the family class, could also be affected.