As of July 9, 2021, 18 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 36 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. Despite a trend where states are becoming more welcoming towards marijuana, it remains federally illegal. This means that lawful marijuana use can have disastrous immigration consequences–even in states where marijuana use is legal.
Furthermore, lawful employment in the marijuana industry may make non-citizens ineligible for certain forms of relief. Although President Biden stood for decriminalization of marijuana during his campaign, the Biden administration has not yet formulated policy changes regarding marijuana.
Non-citizens should avoid marijuana use in any form until they become a United States citizen, as this is the best guarantee against negative immigration consequences. This includes marijuana use for medical purposes.
Non-citizens should also avoid all employment in the marijuana industry. Though it is a rapidly growing industry, employment in the marijuana industry is risky for non-citizens. Examples of employment includes harvesting, sales, working for dispensaries, transportation and delivery.
Additionally, non-citizens should avoid storing marijuana-related photos on their phones or uploading marijuana-related content on social media. Non-citizens should also avoid possessing marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia, either inside or outside of their homes. For more tips, see the video by Immigrant Legal Resource Center below.
If you have questions about marijuana and your status, you can also contact us at (916) 340-6080 to see if you qualify for a consultation at our Immigration Clinic.
About the Author
Jordan Mickele-Niemoeller is currently a rising third-year student at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He has been a student attorney in the Immigration clinic since Summer 2020.