Illinois and other states have decriminalized the use of marijuana, but cannabis and it’s derivative products remain a controlled substance under United States federal law. It is illegal to use, sell, possess, produce, grow or distribute the substance. Any involvement with the cannabis industry, including ownership or work in the industry, may affect a non-citizens’ ability to establish a good moral character (GMC), which is a prerequisite for a green card or for citizenship.
Under an April policy alert issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), possession or use marijuana—even in a state where it is legal can bar them from establishing good moral character:
An 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.
Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under the federal Control Substance Act, 21 U.S.C. §802(16), and does not have accepted medical use. Conduct involving marijuana, even if it is legal in the state you live and where you are applying for a green card or citizenship, may violate the Control Substances Act. This is a federal criminal offense and may prevent you from establishing a good moral character.
Chicago immigration attorney Mario Godoy advises non-citizens to never lie about legal or illegal marijuana use, and has advise for immigrants on the subject of marijuana:
Non-citizens who are applying for legal immigration status should consult an experienced immigration attorney on how to deal with legal and illegal marijuana use or marijuana industry work.
The attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office fight for the rights of immigrants in Illinois and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. If you need help with an immigration issue, please reach out to us online.