Marijuana is legal in California for both recreational and medicinal use. Since then, several other states have followed suit.
If you’re an immigrant who hopes to obtain permanent residence in the United States, however, what’s legal for everybody else can get you deported.
Why do you need to be cautious about marijuana if it’s legal in this state?
Essentially, the whole issue boils down to one fact: The federal government doesn’t play by the same rules that the states do. Under federal law, marijuana is still a Class I illegal drug, and that’s all that matters to the U.S. Customs and Immigration authorities.
If you’re a noncitizen, any use, possession, transport or trafficking in marijuana is enough to make you inadmissible to the U.S. on the grounds that you’ve failed the “good moral character” test.
For noncitizens who are concerned about their futures in this country, this means that you should not:
- Admit that you have used legal recreational marijuana
- Obtain a medical marijuana card (even with a doctor’s recommendation)
- Work in a medical marijuana dispensary or in the legal marijuana industry
- Openly support marijuana use through your social media
- Own items like t-shirts, keychains or bags with “pro-marijuana” imagery
- Act as a caregiver to pick up medical marijuana on someone else’s behalf
It’s unfair, and it may be frustrating, but until the federal laws are changed or there’s a revision in the policies regarding the admissibility of noncitizens to the United States, that’s where things stand.
If you’re facing problems with immigration and your marijuana use may be an issue, you have no time to waste. Talk with an experienced immigration attorney today.