The U.S. House of Representatives passed a marijuana legalization bill on April 1, 2022, however, cannabis remains illegal and a federal crime. Even though marijuana purchase and use are legal in Illinois, it is illegal on the federal level and is a serious federal crime with severe immigration consequences. The immigration consequences of cannabis use, production, or sale are severe even if you use marijuana for authorized medical reasons.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, combined state controlled substance laws under federal law, and made it a federal crime to use, possess, sell, give away, grow, import or export cannabis.
A noncitizen who possesses, sells, or uses cannabis can be:
• found inadmissible to enter the United States
• denied entry into the United States
• have their green card or citizenship applications denied and/or
• be placed in deportation proceedings
The impact on the spouse and children of a noncitizen who is convicted of marijuana sales or distribution can also be very severe. They can:
• become inadmissible for five years if they obtained any financial benefit from the cannabis-related activity and “knew or reasonably should have known” where the money from cannabis sales came from
Employment by a cannabis producer or distributor, such as in a dispensary or recreational store in a state such as Illinois where marijuana use is legal, can hurt a noncitizen’s chances of gaining permanent residence or citizenship.
If you are an immigrant who has:
• used cannabis even in a state where it is legal to use marijuana
• have been convicted of a cannabis-related crime even if the conviction was expunged
• work or invest in the cannabis industry
• have concerns about a family member’s cannabis related activity
• have questions about how the laws around cannabis and other controlled substances might affect you,
contact an experienced immigration attorney before you file for any immigration benefits, travel outside the country or speak with an immigration officer.
• Can I lose my job for a positive marijuana test? Cannabis is legal in Illinois!
• Marijuana and Mixed Status Households
Do you have a question about how Illinois and federal marijuana laws and expungement, and how they affect immigrants and non-citizens? The immigration 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 a criminal or immigration issue, please contact our office at 630-912-0322.
AREAS WE SERVE: Godoy Law Office serves the entire Chicago, Illinois area including DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will and Lake Counties