California was the first state in the nation to allow medical cannabis and marijuana became legal for adult recreational use way back in 2016 – but the issue is a bit complicated for immigrants.
Although perfectly legal within this state (and numerous others) marijuana remains a Schedule I drug on the federal level and broadly illegal. Since immigration is also controlled at a federal level, immigration authorities still treat marijuana possession and/or its use as deportable offenses.
What does this mean in practical terms?
If you’re an immigrant who isn’t yet naturalized, any marijuana usage could put your status in danger. This means:
- Do not obtain a medical marijuana card without first seeking legal guidance.
- Do not carry marijuana with you.
- Do not take a job at a marijuana grow operation or dispensary.
- Do not admit to using or possessing marijuana products to an immigration officer.
- Do not post “pro-marijuana” memes or content on social media.
- Do not wear or carry “pro-marijuana” clothing, pins or buttons.
Essentially, you do not want to do anything that could put you under an immigration official’s microscope. Admitting to possession or use of marijuana, even when the drug was obtained legally within the state, still can be treated as an admission that you committed a drug offense. That can destroy your immigration dreams.
Given the overall shift in attitudes toward cannabis use, medicinal or otherwise, it can be easy to make a mistake and assume that you cannot get into serious immigration trouble over marijuana. If you’ve made a mistake, find out more about your defense options by seeking legal guidance.