Medical marijuana is widely accepted in the United States as a viable alternative to other painkillers. Pennsylvania has had a robust medical marijuana program since 2016.

If you’re an immigrant living in this state, however, it may be wise to steer clear of medical marijuana despite its potential benefits. Even though many states and local jurisdictions have decriminalized the possession of marijuana, cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law.

As an immigrant who is seeking citizenship, you are held to a strict standard of conduct. An offense that might get a U.S. citizen nothing more than a judicial “slap on the wrist” could have devastating consequences for you. If you use marijuana and are caught, it’s considered an indicator of “moral turpitude,” or general unfitness for citizenship.

It’s smart to let this knowledge guide your behavior. That means that in addition to not using marijuana, you should also not do any of these things:

  • Go outside wearing marijuana-themed accessories or clothing, like a pro-marijuana t-shirt or keychain.
  • Carry any kind of marijuana or paraphernalia, such as rolling papers or a pipe, on your person or in your car.
  • Admit to a federal agent (including those in Immigration and Customs Enforcement) that you have ever used marijuana.
  • Work in the marijuana industry or visit a dispensary for any reason. (Even being in the building or area might potentially be held against you.)

If you’re an immigrant facing a charge related to medical marijuana, get legal assistance right away. You need to understand the consequences of any plea you might make — before you make it. An immigration attorney can help protect your legal rights.