Why you could be singled out for the pot-smoking question at the U.S. border

If simply telling a U.S. border guard that you have smoked pot can get you barred from the country for life, then many who have never been asked the question might be wondering what prompts a customs officer to pose the query in the first place.
That was certainly on the mind of Vancouver’s Alan Ranta, 35, a freelance music journalist, when he attempted to drive his Toyota Yaris hatchback from British Columbia to Washington state in July to cover the Cascadia music festival.
“[The U.S. border agent]┬ádidn’t like the look of our camping gear, I guess,” said Ranta. “He just asked us two questions: Where we were going, and if we were hiding anyone in the back.”
U.S. border agents searched his car and found a purse that read “weed money,” which Ranta says had never contained pot or money.
“I answered truthfully. I said I …