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ACBA
The state Bar of California
Asian American Bar Association
American Immigration Lawyers Association
ATLA
Expertise
Expertise 2021

Marijuana Could Impact Immigration Status

California residents may have the right to work for companies that produce or sell marijuana products. However, if those individuals are not currently citizens, working in the legal marijuana industry could complicate the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS), those who are involved with marijuana may be considered to lack good moral character. This is because marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law.

Under the USICS guidance, the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes could also make it difficult to become a naturalized citizen. According to a member of the Drug Policy Alliance, the new policy is nothing more than a way to lash out against immigrants. He said that the policy was akin to building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

There is currently a case in Colorado involving two migrants who have found work within the legal marijuana industry. Although some have expressed concern over the guidance issued by the USICS, it is unclear how it will be enforced. The agency has not responded to attempts from the media asking for a statement. However, according to the Drug Policy Alliance member, the new rule is another reason to take marijuana policy away from the federal government.

Individuals who have questions about how an action may impact their immigration status might want to consult with an attorney. Legal counsel could explain what state and federal law says about an issue such as possessing marijuana or working for a company that produces it. An attorney may be able to provide court representation to a client who is having trouble getting naturalized or otherwise remaining in the country.

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