How Does the Possession of Marijuana Affect My Immigration Status?


Board Certified Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Peek discusses how the possession of marijuana can affect your immigration status.

If you are not a U.S. citizen and have a drug conviction, such as possession of marijuana, you can face deportation or be inadmissible to the United States.

We continuously see this issue of non-U.S. citizens, such as permanent residents or those here on student or work visas, that enjoy using marijuana. However, they don’t realize the legal consequences if you are an immigrant.

There are now more states legalizing the use or decriminalizing the use of marijuana. It’s beginning to increase as more people are using it. But there are still States, like here in Texas, where it is still illegal to have marijuana in your possession or THC products in your possession. 

So what happens if are a non-U.S. citizen and you get arrested for possession of marijuana?

As one side of the law begins to legalize marijuana, you have to know that the Federal Immigration Law still views all illegal drugs, including marijuana, as a problem for immigrants. If convicted, you can get deported or become inadmissible.

What is the difference?

Federal immigration law says, if you are here in the United States and have one conviction for marijuana under 30 grams, you may be able to avoid becoming deportable. However,, you will automatically be inadmissible to the United States.

What happens if you are inadmissible? 

Inadmissible means that you can be denied entry to the United States if you leave the country and try to come back. For example, if you have been a permanent resident for many years but get a conviction for a small amount of marijuana under 30 grams, and you decide to travel outside the U.S.. When you come back into the country, immigration can deny your entry and you will be placed into removal proceedings.

If convicted, what do I do? 

Anytime you have a drug charge or are accused of possession of any drug, even marijuana, you need to talk to immigration and criminal defense lawyer right away. Jeff Peek is a Board Certified Immigration attorney with over 20 years of experience in immigration and criminal defense. 

You have to have a lawyer that knows both sides of the law, one that can counsel you through the criminal defense, but that also knows immigration laws so they can best protect you. 

What if where I live is legal to smoke marijuana? 

Now, if you’re in a state where it’s legal, you’re in a different position. You’re not going to be convicted because it’s not a crime anymore. However, under Federal Immigration Law, there’s another statute that states if you’re considered an addict or admit to committing a crime, you could potentially be inadmissible as well. Therefore, you’re not entirely free, although there is a lower risk of being charged with a crime. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or if you or a loved one is faced with a drug conviction. We are always happy to help you.  




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