There is a lot of talk about the dangers facing the United States from its borders, but that is why we have the Border Patrol. The dangers are typically thought to come along the U.S. and Mexican border, especially from illegal drugs being smuggled in.
The Border Patrol watching over the Canadian border along Maine state lines gave warning to U.S. citizens in Maine that if they come across anyone with medical or recreational marijuana, they will confiscate it. Since marijuana is still the worst kind of drug there is from the federal government’s perspective, all U.S. federal agencies will abide by federal law. The U.S. agency also stated that it will not hire anyone with family connections to a state legal marijuana business. Do you think such a public statement from the Border Patrol in Maine was necessary though?
BANGOR — The top U.S. Border Patrol agent in Maine cautioned residents Monday that officers will still confiscate marijuana when they encounter it and that even family connections to the cannabis industry can disqualify someone from federal employment.
Chief Daniel Hiebert, who heads the Houlton sector of the Border Patrol, said Maine voters’ legalization of recreational marijuana last November and the state’s well-established medical marijuana program do not change his agents’ obligation to follow federal law.
And while Hiebert said Maine’s Border Patrol agents are not actively searching for marijuana, they won’t ignore the drug if they encounter it while carrying out their security responsibilities along Maine’s more than 600-mile border with Canada.
So Hiebert has a message to Mainers legally possessing marijuana – either medical or recreational – near the border.
“Be careful,” he said. “If they want to keep their marijuana, don’t do anything that is going to get our agents’ attention.”
Hiebert also said marijuana usage – or even connections to the state’s growing cannabis industry – could prevent Mainers from getting a job with the Border Patrol and some other federal agencies. Like many Border Patrol offices across the country, the Houlton sector is currently understaffed and facing a shortage of qualified applicants for open positions.
At least one recent applicant for a job with the Border Patrol in Maine was rejected because an immediate family member or close associate worked in the legal medical marijuana industry, he said.
“If someone is thinking about a career in the federal government, they need to think about what they are doing with medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Hiebert said during a discussion with reporters at Bangor International Airport.
Maine is one of eight states, plus the District of Columbia, where it is legal for adults to possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes, and was one of the first states to allow medical cannabis. Maine law allows adults age 21 and over to possess up to 2½ ounces of marijuana and to grow up to six adult marijuana plants. It remains illegal to sell recreational marijuana in Maine until a regulatory and licensing system is established, likely sometime next year.
Yet cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, leading to confusion among law enforcement, marijuana users and the business involved in the exploding industry. And while the Obama administration maintained a largely hands-off approach toward marijuana – as long as states tightly regulated its use and sale – the Trump administration has sent mixed messages about the drug.
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