Working with marijuana could lead to a denial of U.S. citizenship

Marijuana use is starting to become more acceptable to many in our country, to the point that some states have even legalized the possession of small amounts of recreational or medical marijuana. However, the possession and sale of marijuana is not legal in Kentucky or under federal law. In fact, simply working in the marijuana industry in any state could bar an immigrant from obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Even in states where marijuana is legal to a certain extent, the possession of the drug or merely working in industries involving the drug, still violates federal law. Thus, per a policy clarification issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigrants who do so may be unable to claim they meet the “good moral character” standard for U.S. citizenship. Marijuana is classified as a “Schedule I” drug under federal law.

Certain drug offenses can lead to a permanent or conditional bar on a person’s ability to obtain U.S. citizenship. Some immigrants in our nation have been denied citizenship due to their employment in the marijuana industry, even in states that permit the use of the drug for medical or recreational purposes. Thus, in addition to possessing the drug, working in the industry could mean that an immigrant will not meet the “good moral character” standard for U.S. citizenship.

Immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship need to make sure they abide by all federal laws, including federal drug laws. The laws regarding marijuana use can be confusing, especially in states that permit the use of the drug to some extent. Thus, those who have questions regarding the “good moral character” standard for U.S. citizenship and how it relates to marijuana will want to seek legal advice, which this post does not provide.