The cannabis industry has exploded over the last ten years since Colorado and Washington state first legalized the adult use of marijuana (“adult use” used to be referred to as “recreational use,” but the verbiage has since changed). Now, 18 states permit adult use, and 37 states permit medicinal use. But what does that mean for non-citizens of the United States?
It is important to note that marijuana continues to be illegal on the federal level, and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operate under federal law. Having cannabis on your person at Customs could result in a Customs fine, or in some cases, a statement can be taken from you during the inspection process which could be used to establish inadmissibility. There have even been reports of non-citizens being denied entry at the border for having any sort of cannabis-related product, including CBD sleeping pills.
There are movements for marijuana reform on a federal level, with members of Congress urging the federal government to align themselves with changing state and local policies. Until reform is enacted, however, it is important to be extremely careful with marijuana use, purchase, and possession as a non-citizen.
While true for everyone (US citizens, permanent residents, and non-residents alike), this is a special reminder for non-residents and permanent residents to never drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or any controlled substance. A DUI can greatly affect immigration proceedings for non-citizens.
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This post is an informal summary of information that was gathered from an article by W Scott Railton on Think Immigration, a blog hosted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.