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If you’re an immigrant, be smart about marijuana

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2022 | Removal Defense |

All over the United States, the social attitudes toward marijuana have shifted, and the laws in many states have followed suit. In fact, the vast majority of states now permit some form of medical marijuana use and some – including California – have legalized the drug’s recreational use in the much the same way that alcohol is allowed for adults.

That latitude goes out the window, however, if you’re an immigrant who wants to eventually get your Green Card.

What to avoid if you aren’t yet a citizen

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and immigration authorities consider it an illicit drug (even when purchased legally in a state-sanctioned dispensary). As such, it’s use can be considered a crime of “moral turpitude” and worthy of deportation.

If you are legally here in the United States but you’re not a citizen:

  • Do not apply for a medical marijuana card unless you get legal guidance.
  • Do not apply for or take a job in a marijuana business (including dispensaries).
  • Never broadcast the fact that you are “pro-marijuana,” including via t-shirts, keychains, bumper stickers or anything else that has marijuana leaves on it, “420,” a pipe or a bong.
  • Never leave your home with any drug paraphernalia, including a pipe.
  • Do not discuss your beliefs about marijuana on social media.
  • Do not discuss marijuana or any drug use via email or text messages.

Generally speaking, it’s wisest if you simply avoid using marijuana entirely until you have citizenship.

Finally, if asked directly about marijuana use by an immigration official – don’t lie, and don’t answer the question if it could prove problematic. Instead, say that you are exercising your right to remain silent until you can obtain legal guidance.