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Medical marijuana and immigration: Put on the brakes

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Discrimination |

As a whole, the United States has embraced marijuana. While it’s still only legal to use recreationally in about half of the country, most states – including Pennsylvania – have some form of medical marijuana program available.

The shift in attitude is in recognition of the growing body of evidence that shows that cannabis and cannabis products can have medicinal uses. Unfortunately, if you’re an immigrant who lacks naturalized citizenship, you still cannot afford to take advantage of this drug.

It’s all about federal law and the definition of moral turpitude

While marijuana may be legal at the state levels to varying degrees, it still is considered an illegal drug under federal law. While its exact classification under the Controlled Substances Act is expected to change soon, it still won’t be “legal” at a federal level – and immigration authorities and laws consider its use to be evidence of “moral turpitude.”

Basically, if you admit that you use or have ever used marijuana in your life – even for medicinal purposes – the federal government considers you to be of poor moral character. That can make you inadmissible to the United States, which means you may not be able to enter the country legally. If you’re already in the U.S., you could be prevented from adjusting your status to become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) or citizen. 

Finally, having a medical marijuana card and admitting that you use cannabis puts you in violation of federal law, so that’s a deportable offense. Even working in the cannabis industry at a dispensary or being caught with a single edible or joint can be enough to get you deported.

Immigration laws are very complicated, and constantly changing. Seeking guidance tailored to your situation is best.


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