The Chicago immigration attorneys Zneimer & Zneimer PC remind non-citizens that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Many states have decriminalized the use of marijuana. Because under some states’ laws use or possession of marijuana is no longer a crime, many immigrants are under the very wrong impression that they can possess and use marijuana without consequences for their immigration status. This is wrong because possession of marijuana continues to be a federal offense and immigration is in the province of federal law.
Immigration officials often question aliens about marijuana use or possession, especially in states that have legalized its use. If an alien admits to an immigration official that he or she has ever used marijuana, the alien can face very serious immigration consequences. The problems may occur even if the alien has never been convicted of a marijuana-related crime, and only admits that he or she used marijuana at home in a state where marijuana was legal. Such admission will cause a number of serious problems. Marijuana use will create immigration issues if the alien applies for permanent residence, citizenship, encounters ICE officials, travels internationally.
The best thing for any non-citizen is to avoid marijuana, including avoid investments in marijuana businesses, work in marijuana dispensaries or shops, or using marijuana. A non-citizen should never carry any marijuana or paraphernalia, any frequent-buyer marijuana card, medical marijuana card, any phone with marijuana-related photos or messages, wear any marijuana-themed clothes, have a car with marijuana-themed bumper-sticker, and never, ever, post any self-incriminating statements about use of marijuana on social media.
Remember that it is a crime to lie to federal officials but it is not a crime to remain silent. So if a non-citizen is questioned whether he or she ever used marijuana, and the non-citizen has used marijuana, the non-citizen should respond that he or she does not want to talk to the federal official but wants to talk to a lawyer.