On January 1, 2020, the recreational use of cannabis became legal in Illinois. The new legalization laws also expunge criminal records for prior marijuana arrests and convictions, but an expungement will not help your immigration case. Marijuana remains a federally banned drug even after Illinois legalized the purchase and use of cannabis for recreational purposes. The new laws impact the use of marijuana and mixed-status families. All household members need to understand how the legal use of marijuana can negatively impact someone who lives in the same household but has a different immigration or citizenship status.
The Illinois law expunged criminal records for marijuana arrests and convictions, but those expungements won’t help immigration cases. Non-citizens living in mixed-status households where some household members are legal U.S. residents or citizens while other members are not have special immigration issues that apply to marijuana possession and use and other drug charges.
Chicago immigration attorney Mario Godoy says,
“Non-citizens should not partake, admit use or carry documentation of marijuana purchases such as a receipt because it could hurt their immigration case. If you live in a mixed-status household, it is important that the citizen members of the household do not take actions that can accidentally hurt non-citizens, such as using legal recreational marijuana.”
Use of marijuana – even legal use – is considered a federal crime and can result in an immigration or citizenship application denial – and even deportation. Non-citizens should consult an experienced immigration attorney about the impacts of legal and illegal marijuana use, criminal drug history or marijuana industry work or investment.
Do you have a question about how Illinois’ new marijuana laws affect immigrants and non-citizens? The attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office provide criminal defense against drug and DUI charges and fight for the rights of immigrants in Illinois. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 855.554.6369.