Bill Approved by House Legalizing Marijuana Also Would Affect Immigrants
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act passed the House of Representatives on April 1, 2022. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the bill would clear marijuana-related convictions from people’s records and remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list. The bill specifically prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration law based on marijuana related conduct.
Thirty-seven states allow use of medical marijuana and 18 of them allow non-medical use. Canada legalized marijuana in 2018. The legal marijuana industry is clearly growing in the United States, but foreign nationals cannot participate and cannot even invest in these companies without risking immigration consequences. Any foreign nationals, even green card holders, can be barred from returning to the United States or prevented from naturalizing (for at least five years) for participation in the marijuana industry or using marijuana even where it is legal. This is due to the conflict between state and federal laws. Removing marijuana from the federal controlled substance list would eliminate the conflict and eliminate the immigration “penalties” that affect those working in or with the legal marijuana industry. Without this change in federal law, the United States would find it more difficult to attract high-skilled talent and investments for the legalized marijuana industry from foreign countries – making it harder for the U.S. industry to compete – especially with Canada.