Can You Get Deported For Marijuana Charges?

Can You Get Deported For Marijuana Charges

In this interview, Yakov Spektor explains what could happen if you were charged with a marijuana offense.

In recent years, the legal landscape surrounding marijuana use has changed dramatically, with many states legalizing its use for medicinal and recreational purposes. Despite these changes, however, the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, creating a complex legal scenario that can have serious consequences, particularly for immigrants.


The Reality of Marijuana Charges and Immigration

The challenges around marijuana charges for immigrants are complex, as highlighted in our recent insightful interview. Let’s summarize the key points:

  • Federal versus state law: Despite some states legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use, federal law still classifies it as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that immigrants, even in states where marijuana is legal, can face penalties under federal law.
  • Risk of Deportation: One of the more severe consequences that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, can face due to marijuana charges is deportation. This is because marijuana use or involvement in the marijuana industry can be interpreted as drug trafficking under federal law.
  • Protection under state law is a misconception: Many immigrants believe that state law protects them from repercussions due to marijuana use or involvement. However, federal law can still apply, leading to potential deportation.

When it comes to addressing misconceptions about marijuana use among the immigrant community, several key points need clarification:

  1. Legalization or decriminalization of marijuana at the state level shields immigrants from any negative consequences. Although some states have relaxed their marijuana laws, the federal government still classifies marijuana use as an offense.
  2. Working within the legal confines of the state’s marijuana industry precludes the risk of federal prosecution. Regrettably, this is untrue, as the federal government can still press charges, potentially leading to deportation.
  3. Personal use of marijuana carries fewer risks than owning or working in a dispensary. While this is true, it’s important to remember that under federal law, almost any involvement with marijuana, including personal use, can lead to deportation.

Understanding these realities is crucial for immigrants. It is important to remember that the laws surrounding this issue are complex and may change. Therefore, staying updated and seeking professional legal advice when needed is the best course of action.


Understanding Federal Law vs. State Law

The discrepancy between state and federal laws regarding marijuana use stems from the U.S. system of government. States can pass their laws, many of which deviate from federal law. The federal government, however, still has the power to enforce its laws within these states. This dual sovereignty system creates a situation where legal activities at the state level can still be prosecuted at the federal level.

In the case of marijuana, immigrants who engage with the substance in states where it’s legal can still face deportation if they are charged under federal law.


The Risks of Marijuana Business

Involvement in the marijuana industry, especially for immigrants, comes with many risks due to the ongoing disparity between state and federal laws. Below, we delve into the specific challenges immigrants might face when owning a dispensary or engaging in the marijuana business:

  1. Ownership and Operation: While it is legal to own and operate a marijuana dispensary in certain states, federal law still classifies such activities as illegal. This is a risk for immigrants, as federal charges can lead to severe consequences, including deportation.
  2. Investment Risk: Even indirect involvement, such as investment in a marijuana business, can lead to immigration consequences. While the risk of federal criminal prosecution for such activities is currently low, it is still a possibility while marijuana remains illegal on the national level.
  3. Employment Risk: Immigrants working in a marijuana business face similar risks. Employment in the industry can be seen as participation in drug trafficking by federal law, regardless of the state laws.
  4. Risk of Criminal Charges: The most severe consequence of involvement in the marijuana industry for immigrants is the potential for criminal charges. If they lead to a conviction, these charges can result in deportation, even for legal permanent residents.

The potential consequences of involvement in the marijuana business for immigrants are significant and can include:

  • Deportation: Regardless of immigration status, involvement in the marijuana industry can result in deportation due to federal drug trafficking laws, even if the immigrant’s actions are legal according to state law.
  • Ineligibility for U.S. Citizenship: Immigrants who are involved in the marijuana industry may find their applications for U.S. citizenship denied. This is because federal law still views marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.
  • Criminal Charges: Federal law can impose criminal charges on immigrants involved in the marijuana industry, leading to potential imprisonment before deportation.

Understanding these risks is crucial for any immigrant considering getting involved in the marijuana business. Legal consultation is vital to fully understand and navigate these complex laws and potential consequences.


Prevention and Legal Consultation

Given these severe potential consequences, immigrants need to be aware and informed about the risks associated with marijuana and seek legal consultation early on. When preparing for a consultation, it is crucial to come up with specific questions about your situation. Ask about potential risks you may be facing and how best to mitigate them. A knowledgeable attorney can provide guidance tailored to your unique circumstances.


Understanding Marijuana Laws and Immigration

Navigating the complexities of marijuana laws, particularly as they relate to immigration status, can be a daunting task. Understanding the dissonance between state and federal laws and the severe repercussions immigrants can face—including deportation—underscores the importance of being well-informed and cautious.

Prevention is always better than cure. Early legal consultation is a strong recommendation for anyone seeking to understand their position better and mitigate against potential risks. Preparing well for these consultations by understanding your situation, gathering relevant documents, and asking pertinent questions can be immensely beneficial.

Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel for a more in-depth discussion. Remember, the laws surrounding marijuana and immigration are complex and subject to change. Continuous education and a proactive approach to understanding the law are the best defenses against unexpected legal issues that might arise.

While marijuana use is considered harmless in most states, if you have been charged with a marijuana offense at some point during your stay in the US, this could cause severe complications if you are applying for naturalization.

If you face an immigration issue or seeking legal representation, call the Law Offices of Spektor, Spektor, and Berman right now! Our lawyers will do their best and exhaust all possibilities to get your loved ones out of jail. And if there is any way to avoid deportation, we will know.

Call us at 646-859-0205 or send us a message us today. You’ll be glad you called. You’ll know what to do.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for reference only and might vary depending on your situation. Please always consult your lawyer for legal matters.