Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014, making it available for those who are 21 and older to buy this drug in specific, licensed stores.
Even though marijuana is broadly legal for medicinal or recreational use in this state, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for a non-citizen to indulge. Doing so could put you at risk of criminal charges and deportation.
How state, federal and immigration laws collide
Even though the state of Colorado has legalized the purchase and use of marijuana, this does not apply to those who are legally in the U.S., but not yet naturalized. Under federal law, marijuana is still strictly illegal — and the authorities at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) follow federal laws.
Plus, immigration law still considers the possession or use of marijuana to be a crime of “moral turpitude.” For a non-citizen, that’s a quick route to deportation. Even working in the legal cannabis industry — even if you don’t use marijuana yourself — is enough to lead to deportation.
In fact, advocates recommend that non-citizens avoid any kind of “pro-marijuana” behavior, such as posting approval for marijuana legislation or memes about marijuana use on their social media pages. Anything that could be used to impinge your good character is something you want to skip.
In practical terms, that means you should not:
- Wear or carry “pro-marijuana” clothing, keychains or other items
- Keep marijuana paraphernalia (pipes, grinders and papers) on your person
- Be seen anywhere near a marijuana dispensary
In short, protect your future in this country by protecting yourself from any kind of criminal charges. Remember, even though marijuana is legal in this state, you can still end up facing drug charges over a mistake. If that happens, make sure that you have an experienced advocate on your side.