Legal Marijuana Use Could Block Pathway to Citizenship for Immigrants

Consuming marijuana—even if it’s obtained through a legal cannabis dispensary—could now potentially block immigrants from securing US citizenship.

According to a US Citizenship and Immigration Services policy change passed in April, consuming or selling weed may show a lack of moral character.

Citizens hoping to obtain US citizenship oftentimes must display to USCIS officers that they have “good moral character”.

The policy doesn’t only target those who have been convicted in a court of law of buying, using, or selling marijuana either.

Those who openly admit during their citizenship process of using weed in the past also face the potential outcome of having their petition for citizenship denied on grounds of displaying poor moral character, even if they haven’t used the drug in years.

Although the definition of “good moral character” may seem vague and ambiguous on its face, US immigration law does not necessarily provide for the same constitutional protections that other types of US law provide.

Furthermore, immigration and citizenship cases are wholly contingent on federal laws rather than state laws.

Federal law still prohibits the consumption of marijuana under any circumstances.

Since drug laws codified at the federal level preempt state laws that permit marijuana use both recreationally or medicinally, even the use of legal weed could potentially be viewed as a criminal activity—i.e. poor moral character–in the eyes of USCIS officers.

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