This is my very first repost of another lawyer’s material. I’m sharing a blog posting by Christopher Pogue, an immigration attorney, on the intersection of legal cannabis and immigration law, particular with respect to immigration from Canada:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces the laws of the United States and U.S. laws will not change following Canada’s legalization of marijuana. Requirements for international travelers wishing to enter the United States are governed by and conducted in accordance with U.S. Federal Law, which supersedes state laws.
Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. Federal Law.
Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension.
Generally, any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States.
A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S.
HOWEVER, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.
One of the points Attorney Pogue stressed to me today is this – if someone involved in the legal cannabis industry has an immediate family member (parent, spouse, child) or member of the household who is not a US citizen, their immigration status could be in jeopardy. When applying for residency in the US, the non-citizen is at serious risk because even if cannabis is legal under certain states’ laws, it remains illegal at the federal level. Consequently, if you are a stockholder, director, officer, manager, or employee in a legal cannabis business, or are contemplating being involved, and you have an immediate family member or household member that is not a US citizen, it is recommended that you raise this issue with an attorney.