Despite changes in state laws, Marijuana remains a potential danger to immigration status


While more than half of U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana and 9 states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, we must caution immigrants about the legal dangers that pertain to them throughout the country. At the federal level, possession of marijuana for any reason remains a criminal offense. Immigration is a federal issue, and federal law prevails in all immigration matters. As such, the risks to one’s immigration status should be taken extremely seriously.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) expresses the danger plainly: non-citizens should never admit to an immigration official “that he or she has ever possessed marijuana” because that can be grounds for being “found inadmissible, denied entry into the United States, or have an application for lawful status or even naturalization denied.” Legal permanent residents can, in some circumstances, be stripped of their green cards and be made deportable. An individual does not even have to have been convicted of a crime to face these consequences.

It is vital, especially as the Trump administration ramps up its war on legal immigration, that non-citizens be extremely cautious even in states where marijuana has been legalized for medical or recreational purposes. The ILRC advises against discussing marijuana possession or use with “any immigration or border official” without a clear say-so from a legal representative. They also warn never to leave your home in possession of “marijuana, a medical marijuana card, drug paraphernalia,” or even clothing or other items that depict marijuana or its use. Never take photos of marijuana or text about it, and certainly never post on social media about it. All of these actions can result in scrutiny and even severe consequences to your immigration status from federal officials.

For more extremely helpful information from the ILRC, please visit their page at: