California has long permitted the use of medical marijuana and, more recently, its recreational use – but immigrants who lack U.S. citizenship have long been denied the ability to use the drug for any reason.
Federal law has continued to classify marijuana as a dangerous drug without any redeeming value, despite all evidence to the contrary. Immigrants without citizenship have thus been widely advised to steer clear of dispensaries, medical marijuana and even the appearance that they might ever use the drug, for fear that their “moral turpitude” could get them deported.
The MORE Act could open new doors for immigrants, and take away fears
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act has already made it through the House and moved to the Senate. The passage of this act would mean a great deal to immigrants and their families.
The bill not only would remove marijuana from the list of federally banned drugs, but would also clear many marijuana-related convictions from people’s criminal records. It also specifically forbids marijuana-related punishments against immigrants, such as deportation or the prevention of naturalization.
For many immigrants and their families, that would mean:
- And end to living in fear that marijuana usage would be found out and used against them
- The ability to seek life-altering medication for conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain and other intractable conditions without worry that they could be deported
- The ability to work in the legal marijuana industry, which is quickly becoming broader and more lucrative than ever
Unfortunately, the MORE Act still has a lot of hurdles to pass in the Senate before it has a chance to make it to the President’s desk for signing – but it does give many people hope for meaningful change.
In the meantime, it’s wise to remember that even a simple possession charge can be very damaging for an immigrant’s future. If you’re facing drug charges or deportation over drug charges, make sure you explore all legal avenues of relief.