How the MORE Act Matters For Immigration
There is a very important relation between immigration and the MORE Act, that is not been stressed enought.
The MORE Act marks a well-deserved change for the cannabis community. The bill that decriminalizes cannabis on a federal level serves many purposes for the community and those most affected by the War on Drugs, but if you haven’t thought on how immigration and the MORE Act are related, here is the explanation of the bill’s importance for immigration and deportation purposes.
Immigrants will benefit from the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, better known as the MORE Act, as they will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial based on any type of marijuana offense.
The MORE Act on Immigration
The MORE Act contains a section that addresses cannabis related issues for immigration. It also acknowledges that cannabis possession was the most common cause of deportation for any offense and the most common cause of deportation for drug law violations as motivation for the Act.
SEC. 9. No adverse effect for purposes of the immigration laws.
(a) In general.—For purposes of the immigration laws (as such term is defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act), cannabis may not be considered a controlled substance, and an alien may not be denied any benefit or protection under the immigration laws based on any event, including conduct, a finding, an admission, addiction or abuse, an arrest, a juvenile adjudication, or a conviction, relating to cannabis, regardless of whether the event occurred before, on, or after the effective date of this Act.
(c) Conforming amendments to immigration and nationality act.—The Immigration and Nationality Act is amended—
(1) in section 212(h), by striking “and subparagraph (A)(i)(II) of such subsection insofar as it relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana”;
(2) in section 237(a)(2)(B)(i), by striking “other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana”;
(3) in section 101(f)(3), by striking “(except as such paragraph relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marihuana)”;
(4) in section 244(c)(2)(A)(iii)(II) by striking “except for so much of such paragraph as relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana”;
(5) in section 245(h)(2)(B) by striking “(except for so much of such paragraph as related to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana)”;
(6) in section 210(c)(2)(B)(ii)(III) by striking “, except for so much of such paragraph as relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marihuana”; and
(7) in section 245A(d)(2)(B)(ii)(II) by striking “, except for so much of such paragraph as relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marihuana”.
Can you Be Deported for Marijuana Charges?
Currently cannabis-related offenses are considered a deportable offense and any connection that a visa or citizenship applicant may have to marijuana can be used as a basis for denials of application, even working in a dispensary or growing facilities, doesn’t matter that the state had legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, is considered to be cause of deportation for engaging an activity that is federally regulated and unlawful.
In April 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued the following Policy Alert “an applicant (for naturalized citizenship) who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack [good moral character] if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity is not unlawful under applicable state or foreign laws.”
The MORE Act is looking to reform the immigration rules providing that the use or possession of marijuana, or prior conviction for a marijuana offense, have no adverse impact under the immigration laws.
Immigrants would be allowed to hold jobs in the growing industry of marijuana, and those convicted of any marijuana-related crime would no longer be found inadmissible or subject to removal
Importance of the MORE Act on immigration
Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act doesn’t legalize marijuana in every state, but decriminalizes cannabis at a federal level. Since immigration is mainly regulated federally, once the MORE Act becomes effective mere marijuana possession charges won’t turn into deportable offenses.
The MORE Act is important for immigrants because removing marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act will not only allow immigrants convicted of marijuana-related crimes to expunge their record, but also allow them to hold jobs in the emerging cannabis industry without risking their immigration status.
Although it would no longer be a federal offense, the violation of local law is something that’s still taken under consideration through federal administration, and that includes immigration. You should consult with an immigration lawyer for legal advice if you find yourself in a similar situation.
To Further Understand How Immigration and The MORE Act are Related, Here is the full text:
Don’t miss out on our Marijuana Legalization Map where you can browse the current status of laws in every state in the United States and see all our posts on each of them.
Interested in coming on as a guest? Email our producer at email@example.com