There’s a certain confusion here about the legal status of cannabis and the weed industry. For the Federal government is saying that working in that legal weed industry could be detrimental – exclusionary even – to the chance of immigrants becoming citizens.
Eh? How can doing a legal job means you’re not going to get citizenship? The answer being that there are several systems of law in the United States. And weed is legal under one set of such laws and not another. Immigration is dealt with under that set of laws where weed isn’t legal. Thus this shouldn’t be coming as all that much of a surprise:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released new guidance Friday saying that working in the marijuana industry, even in areas where it is legal, could prevent immigrants from attaining citizenship.
Indeed it could.
The new “policy guidance” is but the latest hard-line stance taken toward immigrants and immigration by the Trump administration — though USCIS framed the move as a rule-of-law issue. The agency warns of “immigration consequences” for any immigrant possessing, distributing, dispensing, or manufacturing cannabis, explaining how they “may lack good moral character” — something required for citizenship ….
It’s yet another example of how the contradiction between state and federal laws is spilling over beyond issues related to the legal marijuana industry itself. While 33 US states and the District of Columbia allow some kind of pot use, the drug remains illegal when it comes to any kind of federal matter, including green cards and naturalization.
And that’s the point. As USCIS says themselves:
Since 1996, some states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to decriminalize the manufacture, possession, distribution, and use of both medical and non-medical (recreational) marijuana in their respective jurisdictions. However, federal law classifies marijuana as a “Schedule I” controlled substance whose manufacture (which includes production, such as planting, cultivation, growing, or harvesting), distribution, dispensing, or possession may lead to immigration consequences.
It’s that layers of law thing. Sure, some States have said marijuana is fine and legal. Others – most at this point – have said that medical pot’s just fine. Both of which imply that the growing and distribution are legal under certain circumstances. Federal law, which is the level immigration is dealt with at, says it’s the Very Devil still. So, would be immigrants can indeed lessen their chances by being involved in something legal under state law and illegal under Federal.
We’d not have it any other way of course. There are many things which are entirely legal under Federal law and illegal under State. Or some State laws, there’re often enough those lists of things like not eating garlic three hours before getting on a bus and so on. But alium consumption is no bar to immigration status – different level of law, see?