Regardless of state law, marijuana remains a federal Schedule I controlled substance. As such it can cause heavy penalties for immigrants. Just admitting to DHS that one possessed marijuana, or just being employed in the legitimate cannabis industry, can make a noncitizen inadmissible and conditionally (for a certain time period) barred from establishing good moral character – even if that conduct was permitted under state law.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Is Marijuana decriminalized for immigration purposes?
- Will my statements made to the civil surgeon (doctor) interview be kept confidential?
- What do I need to know about marijuana laws before applying for a visa?
- What if I visit a marijuana dispensary in a state that has decriminalized marijuana?
- Marijuana use has been legal in Canada since 2018. What impact does that have in terms of U.S. immigration law?
- I have a medical condition for which I have been prescribed the use of marijuana by a U.S. doctor. Will this be an issue for my immigration case?
- Does the federal treatment of marijuana impact an application for naturalization (citizenship)?
Marijuana has been decriminalized in several states nationwide – does that mean that marijuana has been decriminalized for immigration purposes?
No. There are significant potential immigration risks involved in possessing, using, selling, or growing marijuana, or visiting marijuana dispensaries, even if these actions are legal in some U.S. states.
Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, which governs immigration eligibility, including visas, permanent residence and citizenship. This means that even when certain actions have been decriminalized by state laws, they are deemed illegal under federal law and can have immigration consequences.
I will be attending a medical examination with a civil surgeon in advance of my visa appointment or Adjustment of Status interview- will my statements made to the civil surgeon (doctor) during that interview be kept confidential?
No. All statements made during a civil surgeon examination can and will be shared with immigration officials as part of the visa interview process.
What do I need to know about marijuana laws and immigration before applying for a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate to enter the United States?
Violations of any law relating to controlled substances, including marijuana, can be a basis for denying a visa stamp (H-1B, L-1, etc.) application, denying someone entry to the U.S. following a trip outside, or revoking a visa stamp.
What if I visit a marijuana dispensary in a state that has decriminalized marijuana?
Weaver Schlenger has heard reports that international entertainers in the U.S. in temporary visa status who visited marijuana dispensaries and provided their passports at the dispensaries were later denied re-entry to the U.S. because their visa stamps had been revoked (unbeknownst to them but presumably because the government accessed the dispensary records of passport information). In addition, even when a visa stamp was not revoked, non-U.S. citizens were questioned upon entry to the U.S. whether on a previous visit they visited a state where marijuana use is legal and whether they used marijuana or visited a dispensary in that state.
Similarly, Weaver Schlenger has also heard reports that the use of credit cards at marijuana dispensaries has caused immigration complications for foreign nationals.
Marijuana use has been legal in Canada since October 17, 2018. What impact does that have in terms of U.S. immigration law?
Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law. A foreign national working or investing in the legal marijuana industry in Canada and coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.
I have a medical condition for which I have been prescribed the use of marijuana by a U.S. doctor. Will this be an issue for my immigration case?
Please note that federal immigration law does not make any exception for marijuana that has been prescribed by a doctor.
Does the federal treatment of marijuana impact an application for naturalization (citizenship)?
In April of 2019, the USCIS issued a Policy Alert which reminded immigration adjudicators that the possession, use, sale, distribution and production of marijuana remain illegal under U.S. federal law and can prevent naturalization applicants from establishing the good moral character required by law to become a U.S. citizen.