The majority of states have legalized some use of marijuana, but marijuana remains a federal Schedule I controlled substance. Therefore, any conduct involving marijuana can be very dangerous for immigrants – including conduct that is permitted under state law. Admitting that one has “legally” used marijuana, being employed in the fast-growing cannabis industry, and any conviction can cause serious immigration problems. A prior marijuana conviction must be vacated based on some error; the fact that the state has since legalized the conduct does not erase it, and many state “mass expungement” actions also do not. Evidence that a person has sold marijuana can harm any noncitizen, in some cases including immigrant youth. Marijuana issues can cause bars to eligibility for affirmative applications such as adjustment of status and naturalization; admission at the border; and cancellation and other applications in removal proceedings.
This Practice Advisory describes how to spot and avoid legal risks, and discusses legal defenses. In addition, see [ https://www.ilrc.org/warning-immigrants-about-medical-and-legalized-marijuana ] for more information and documents, including flyers warning the community about this in English, Spanish, and Chinese.