By: Leon Rodriguez
Seyfarth Synopsis: While marijuana possession and use continue to become legal in many U.S. states, either for strictly medicinal purposes or for any purpose at all, it can still be a basis for denial of immigration benefits, such as temporary visas, legal permanent residency, and/or naturalization, or for revocation of existing immigration benefits. This can even be true where the possession and/or use never resulted in either a criminal charge or conviction.
Notwithstanding contrary state laws, marijuana continues to be deemed a Schedule I narcotic as defined at 21 U.S.C. § 812((b)(1), meaning it has been found to have “a high potential for abuse”, “no currently accepted medical use in treatment” or a lack of “accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” 21 U.S.C. § 812((b)(1)(A)-(C). 21 U.S.C. § 844 makes illegal under federal law simple possession of any Schedule I substance. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded prior Obama-era Department of Justice guidance accommodating State laws on marijuana, particularly those allowing its possession and use for medical purposes. As such, the Department of Justice has returned to an aggressive posture on narcotics enforcement with respect to marijuana.