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Tennessee has just approved medical marijuana — but immigrants need to be wary

On Behalf of | May 6, 2021 | Immigration |

Medical (and recreational) marijuana has gained widespread acceptance in a number of states, but Tennessee hasn’t been particularly receptive to either.

There are signs that things are slowly shifting, however, now that the state legislature has finally allowed a compromise medical marijuana bill to pass. Under the new law, which is a compromise, certain people will be eligible for a medical marijuana card and permitted to legally buy cannabis oil with a low dose of THC (0.9% or less) at approved dispensaries.

If you’re an immigrant who doesn’t yet have citizenship, however, you may want to think twice about applying for a medical marijuana card.

Why do immigrants need to be careful about medical marijuana?

Essentially, it all comes down to one fact: Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. As such, it’s considered a crime to possess or use the drug. Admitting to the use of the drug in the past, even if an immigrant purchased the drug legally for a medical need, can still be used to deny someone U.S. citizenship.

Among the many facets of an application for citizenship, immigrants must pass a “good moral character test,” and illegal drug use — historical or otherwise — is considered a failing. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reiterated that fact as recently as 2019.

Although a federal bill is currently pending that would eliminate marijuana use as a determining factor when it comes to immigration policies, there’s a long way to go before that comes to pass.

Getting through a change in your immigration status can be fraught with difficulties. Given the constantly evolving situation with the laws, it’s wisest to have an attorney’s guidance from the start.