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Immigration Law Blog

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U.S. Immigrants Potentially Denied Citizenship Over Marijuana Ties

On May 19th 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency come out with a new policy alert stating that, “USCIS is issuing a new policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, remains a conditional bar to establishing good moral character (GMC) for naturalization even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law…Any applicant who is involved in certain marijuana related activities may lack GMC if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity is not unlawful under applicable state or foreign laws.” The ‘marijuana related activities’ addressed in the USCIS policy manual include possession, manufacturing, distribution and dispensing of cannabis. Not only can the use of marijuana cause you your naturalization but also jobs associated with the cannabis industry could prevent an immigrant from establishing GMC. Even though medical and recreational marijuana have been legalized in several states it still has yet to be legalized at the federal level. In accordance to a USCIS spokesperson, “Marijuana remains illegal under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance regardless of any actions to decriminalize its possession, use, or sale at the state and local level…Federal law does not recognize the decriminalization of marijuana for any purpose, even in places where state or local law does.” According to the national affairs director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Michael Collins states, “I don’t think this is about marijuana at all…I think this is about them using the war on drugs to go after migrant community and that’s what they’ve been doing since Day 1.” If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic please feel free to contact an immigration attorney. 

Mercedes Riggs