Myles Wilkinson of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, won the trip in a fantasy football league contest, competing against nearly four million other contestants to attend the NFL championship, reports CBC News.
But when he arrived at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, U.S. Customs agents learned about his 1981 marijuana possession conviction in Vancouver and told him he wasn’t respectable enough to enter the U.S.
“I had two grams of cannabis,” Wilkinson, who was 19 at the time of the bust, explained. “I paid a $50 fine.”
“I can’t believe this is happening, for something that happened 32 years ago,” he said.
Ironically, beer-maker Bud Light Canada, which sponsored the fantasy football contest that Wilkinson won, would have been his host at the Super Bowl.
This kind of thing happens on a regular basis, apparently; this time, it got attention because the guy was denied the trip he won in a contest.
“There’s hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have these criminal records for small amounts of cannabis and that results in a lifetime ban for accessing the U.S.,’ said Dana Larsen, director of the Sensible B.C. campaign, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana.
“Being a cannabis user should not be a criminal offense,” Larsen said. “It should be regulated and taxed and controlled, but it should not be banned.”
According to Larsen, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have doubled the number of marijuana possession charges in British Columbia, charging about 3,800 people in 2011.
“That means every day 10 more British Columbians face the lifetime stigma of a possession charge,” Larsen said.