Marijuana does not carry the stigma it used to. With states like Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana in many different forms, and states like Illinois decriminalizing marijuana, people found in simple possession are no longer considered criminals. In fact, people across the country are even beginning to work in the marijuana industry and place their money in marijuana stocks. However, those applying for citizenship must understand the negative impact any activity related to marijuana can have on their application.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has many regulations for granting citizenship and helping immigrants with naturalization. One of these requirements pertains to good moral character. Citizen applicants must show that they have good moral character before they are granted citizenship.
For someone to have good moral character means that they will act within the expectations of a law-abiding society and that they will contribute to that society. Generally, the law identifies those with good moral character as honest and respectable people who follow state and federal law.
When it comes to marijuana, the good moral character requirement is a real problem for many applying for citizenship. This is true regardless of the status of marijuana in the state the applicant lives.
Although it is true that many states are legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, it remains an illegal substance under federal law. It is considered a Schedule I drug under The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and thus, is not considered to have any medical use.
Possessing, manufacturing, producing, distributing, or dispensing marijuana are all considered federal offenses. The USCIS will not consider anyone who breaks federal law to have good moral character. Committing an offense pertaining to marijuana under federal law can bar someone from being granted citizenship.
It is important to understand that the law does not require a criminal conviction in order to bar someone citizenship based on marijuana offenses. In some instances, citizenship is barred when a person admits to a marijuana offense. Anyone who benefits financially from a spouse’s or parent’s trafficking of marijuana could also be barred from citizenship. This holds true even if the spouse or child did not personally participate in the act of trafficking.
Applying for citizenship is an extremely exciting time. As a citizen, you will enjoy the same protection and rights as all other American citizens. However, this is not a process you should go through alone. An Illinois immigration attorney can give you the best chance of success with your application.
If you are applying for citizenship to the United States, call Kriezelman, Burton, & Associates at (312) 332-2550. We know how exciting this time is, and we want to help ensure the celebration continues. Call us today or fill out our online form if you have questions about your immigration status, or need help with your eligibility for naturalization. One of our attorneys will discuss your case with you in complete confidentiality, and advise on the next steps to take on your way to becoming an American citizen.
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