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How Marijuana Can Screw an Immigrant

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Let's talk about marijuana and immigration. Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our offices in St. Louis, San Diego and Washington, D.C. I'm trying to speak with a little bit of extra pep, a little bit of energy. Somebody left a comment this week that said, "This guy could put a jury to sleep." Now it was one of my old videos so I think I've gotten a little bit better since then, but I did want to talk today on April 20th about marijuana, marijuana and immigration, cannabis, the wacky weed, the green stuff.

Now, I don't know why I always feel the need to say this, but in my whole life I've only seen marijuana once. So I've lived a sheltered life, but that being said, marijuana can be a big issue when it comes to immigration. And the reason for that is something that we talk about on these videos a lot and that is that America has 50 states, and we also have a federal immigration system. And sometimes the 50 states and the federal immigration come into conflict. And when that happens, bad things usually happen to immigrants.

So as you are aware, using drugs is a federal offense, and it can keep you from getting immigration benefits if it comes out that you have used marijuana, that you habitually used marijuana, that you sell marijuana. Lots of aspects to marijuana and it impacts both the USCIS part of things and things at the embassy. And the reason for that is that when you apply for a green card, they're going to ask you about drug use. When you apply for an immigrant visa, they're going to ask you about drug use. And the problem is is that marijuana is legal in many states now. It's legal for not only medicinal purposes, but also for recreational purposes, which means smoking a bowl.

And so given that today's April 20th, I wanted to do this video to talk about marijuana. For some reason, 4/20 is a big marijuana holiday. I'm sort of laughing at myself thinking about this. I sound like such an old white guy talking about marijuana. "I never smoked marijuana." Anyway, in the video I wanted to explain to you that you really need to be careful about how you respond to questions about marijuana. Obviously, you always have to tell the truth so that may impact whether or not you even want to apply for an immigration benefit.

Now, recently, there's been a member of Congress who has introduced legislation that would keep USCIS from being able to consider marijuana use for things like good moral character or admissibility questions. I'm not sure how far that legislation will go. I'm sure the pot smoking immigrants of our country are very excited about that. But at the end of the day, what you need to remember is just because it's legal in your state doesn't mean that it's not going to cause you an immigration problem.

For instance, let's say you had a job in Colorado working at a marijuana dispensary. Well, the Feds would think that might be some kind of crime involving moral turpitude or contrary to our federal drug laws. So you really need to think it through. So if you are worried about marijuana use and its relationship to an immigration benefit that you are going to apply for, I think you probably need to talk to an attorney and think it all through. It's a hairy area of the law. It's complicated like I said, because each state has different rules and those rules do not match the federal government rules when it comes to marijuana.

You know, Judge Sessions when he was attorney general, he was all over this trying to enforce federal drug laws as related to the immigration process. So it's an important thing to talk about. I am laughing about it because it's April 20th and that's apparently a big deal, but I wanted to release this video on 4/20, just so that all of our friends who like to engage in a little bit of wacky weed have the information that they need to make a good decision.

Hope I didn't put anybody to sleep today. Hope you enjoyed the video. Maybe you're smoking a bowl while you watch the video. I don't know. I think Daniel's going to like this video. He's going to laugh when he sees it, but anyway. If you have any questions about this, give us a call 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. I'm laughing now because I think people probably think I'm stoned making this video and laughing the whole time. I do sort of have a case of the munchies, but that's because I'm fasting.

Anyway, you can get us at [email protected]. I already told you that. You can find us in our Facebook Group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and you subscribe to our YouTube channel, so that whenever we make a new video you get alerted right away. And don't forget on most Tuesdays and Thursdays, especially during Ramadan, I will not be eating lunch and I will be in the Facebook Group and in the YouTube account answering as many of your immigration law-related questions, usually at noon Central Time. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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