I was having lunch with a former client who had flown in and out of LAX the other day. We were celebrating that after a long journey involving his moving from California to Washington, the government had granted his application for lawful permanent residence. Knowing that California had legalized the recreational use of marijuana, he mentioned that he was surprised that he didn’t see any “amnesty boxes” at the airport.
As of November 2018, 10 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 33 states allow the use of medical marijuana. However, federal immigration law has not changed: marijuana is still a “controlled substance.” And the consequences can be severe.
Canadians who have admitted to taking a puff in the past or who are involved in the cannabis industry can be turned away at the border and possibly banned from future travel into the United States. CBP officers have stated: “Anytime somebody plans on entering the United States to involve themselves in the distribution, proliferation, possession of any form of marijuana, that could lead to them being found inadmissible.”
Additionally, lawful permanent residents of the United States who are convicted of marijuana possession, sales, or trafficking can find themselves in deportation proceedings. (If Kumar happened to be a non-US citizen, dancing with a giant bag of weed in a public park might not be such a great idea . . .)
As we finished lunch, I said “I’m saddened that we’re not going to be working together anymore, but I’m glad I have a new friend.” As we wrap up 2018, keep this in mind: If you have a green card, maybe try to stay away from the green stuff that comes in little baggies. And I hope that Fong & Aquino makes more “new friends” next year!