If you are a noncitizen, then you must think twice before possessing even small quantities of marijuana for personal use. Low-level marijuana offenses can result in serious immigration consequences.
Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug at the federal level. As a result, any violation of state drug laws (or admission of a drug offense) can be a basis for denying a visa stamp, revoking a visa or denying entry into the U.S. following a trip abroad. Possession and use of marijuana can also prevent naturalization applicants from establishing good moral character to become a citizen.
This can be particularly troubling for international students here on a F-1 visa. Certain favorable resolutions for first-time offenders who are U.S. citizens, such as a deferred judgment leading to an expungement, are often not the best approach because they can be considered a “conviction” for immigration purposes.
The drug defense attorneys at GRL Law have represented numerous international students arrested for simple possession of marijuana. We coordinate efforts with immigration counsel to avoid unintended consequences of any potential resolution. Our creative approach to resolving marijuana charges can make all the difference in remaining in the U.S.
In order to avoid these pitfalls, don’t use marijuana in the U.S. until you are a citizen. Don’t leave the house with marijuana or transport it in a car. Wipe your social media accounts of any reference to marijuana or any other drug in photos or text. And don’t ever admit use or possession to any police officer, immigration official or border agent without first consulting an attorney.