Decriminalization of Marijuana and Your Immigration Status

Decriminalization of Marijuana and Your Immigration Status

25/06/2017

In November 2016, California voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana by the passing of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act also known as Proposition 64. It is with this in mind that a common question is asked in respect of the decriminalization of marijuana versus its use by lawful permanent residence in the U. S. and the immigration impact this has. This article will discuss the risks of deportation, risks associated with travelling outside the U. S., in respect of the medical use of marijuana.

Firstly, it must be noted that in the states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana, there is no requirement under any state laws that you must be a U. S. citizen in order to use medical marijuana. However, some states require that individuals register in order to take advantage of the law therefore, there is need for a state issued identification card to prove that you live there. However, if you are in the country illegally you may have difficulty obtaining such identification.

Risk of deportation

Just because the state you live in allows you to use medical marijuana does not mean that there is no risk associated with your lawful permanent resident status. This is because your immigration status is a federal matter that is governed by federal law and not state law. Hence, federal law makes marijuana use illegal. So even though your state may not convict you for using marijuana for medical purposes the federal government can. Green cardholders convicted of violating of a federal law relating to marijuana are deportable. This includes the crimes relating to marijuana of:

  • Being in possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Being a drug abuser or addict

Therefore, it is possible that the U. S. government will allege that the fact that you use marijuana for medical reasons constitutes drug abuse or addiction. While the possession of marijuana for personal use is not a crime involving moral turpitude and neither is growing marijuana for medical purposes however, to be safe seek out the advice of an immigration attorney near you.

Risks associated with travelling outside the U. S.

If as a green cardholder you want to travel outside the U. S. and use medical marijuana this could cause problems for you getting in and stay in the U. S. after you travel.

This is because the U. S. Customs And Border Protection Officer at the border could treat you as an arriving alien who must be admissible to the U. S. While as a green cardholder you are not on arriving alien when you come back after traveling, however, you become an inadmissible arriving alien if you have been convicted of a federal crime relating to marijuana; no matter how legal it was in your state. As an inadmissible arriving alien you may be allowed back into the country temporarily but deportation proceedings will be started against you. However, you might be eligible for a waiver of your inadmissibility, thus it is advisable to seek out a law firm of professionals with an immigration Detroit office for assistance.

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Richard Herman is a nationally-known immigration attorney with 20+ years of experience representing families and businesses in all aspects of immigration law. Richard was voted for inclusion in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© and listed in Super Lawyers© for ten consecutive years, Richard is the founder of the Herman Legal Group, an immigration law firm serving clients in over 12 languages from offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit, whose attorneys have represented diverse clientele, from Fortune 500 companies to undocumented workers, from technology entrepreneurs to NFL teams. He is the co-author of the acclaimed book, Immigrant, Inc. ---Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). Richard has appeared FOX News (The O’Reilly Factor), ABC News 20/20, National Public Radio, and has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Inc., PC World, Computerworld, CIO, TechCrunch and InformationWeek.

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