Immigration Risks of Legalized Marijuana
As more US states move toward the decriminalization of marijuana and the legalization of medicinal or recreational use marijuana, the question for noncitizens remains a complex one, as federal laws prohibit marijuana use and is the controlling law with respect to a non-citizens immigration status.
Federal law has no marijuana exceptions for medical or other use. It is a federal offense to possess, give away, sell, cultivate, import or export marijuana. This includes any activity, commercial or otherwise, involving any part or derivative of the plant. There have been numerous bills introduced to reform federal drug laws to decriminalize medicinal or recreational use of marijuana. However, none have been successful and non-citizens should be extremely cautious about using marijuana or working in state sanctioned marijuana businesses.
Noncitizens residing in the states that have relaxed or legalized the use of marijuana may reasonably think that using marijuana in accordance with state law will not hurt their immigration status, or their prospects for getting lawful status. To the contrary, noncitizens may find themselves subject to deportation or unable to obtain lawful status as a result of their legal enjoyment of marijuana.