Non-U.S. citizens to seek legal advice before using cannabis products

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – While U.S. citizens in Minnesota are now able to use recreational cannabis, the same cannot be said for non-U.S. citizens.

Non-U.S. citizens can face immigration consequences even if the state says it is legal.

According to the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management, people ages 21 and older may use, possess, transport, and share cannabis products. This is as long as they use the products responsibly and within its guided weight restrictions.

However, the Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management’s website says, “People in Minnesota who are not U.S. citizens should seek legal advice before using or possessing cannabis.”

“Immigration is a federal situation so even though it is legal in the state of Minnesota, it is best for all immigrants to stay clear of it.”

Under federal law, cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug, meaning any affiliation with the drug is still a federal offense.

Because of this, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota urges people not to use marijuana if they are not a U.S. citizen.

“Immigration laws are actually federal law. Not state law. So even if states like Minnesota legalize cannabis, it is still illegal at the federal level.”

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services says even legal conduct with marijuana is grounds for severe immigration penalties.

“For non-citizens, nothing has changed. The law hasn’t changed in terms of the immigration laws, and the state law changing around cannabis has had no effect on the immigration laws.”

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota says there is a risk of getting deported, losing immigration status, and not getting U.S. citizenship or any legal status.

Decker says any past record, even expunged ones, of admitting the use of cannabis can lead to immigration consequences.

“Non-citizens should be aware that, a) expungement doesn’t always solve it for purposes of immigration. There could still be immigration issues. And even if it does help you in your immigration case, you still might need to be able to access all of those expunged records.”

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