If you’re an immigrant living in Colorado, you probably know by now that the state has a robust medical marijuana program. It has also legalized the recreational use of the drug for adults 21 years of age and older.

Don’t get caught in a trap, however. There’s a massive disconnect between state law and federal law where marijuana is concerned, and immigrants can ultimately end up being deported because of it.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been rejecting applications for visas and citizenship by immigrants with any connection to marijuana. While now legal in many states for use one way or another, marijuana still remains a Schedule I drug under federal law and illegal.

Drug use and any connection to the drug trade can cause an immigrant to fail to pass the bar for “good moral character” in the eyes of USCIS. If you’re a non-citizen who is working toward permanent residency of some kind, that means you cannot:

  • Use medical marijuana, even if you meet the criteria
  • Use recreational marijuana, even if you purchase it legally
  • Work in a marijuana dispensary in any capacity
  • Work for a marijuana grower or any other part of the legal marijuana business

Experts are also advising non-citizens to avoid leaving the house with anything that can be considered marijuana paraphernalia or “pro-marijuana” on their persons, including things like t-shirts or keychains. They also recommend that non-citizens avoid discussing marijuana on social media or mention the drug in messages on their phone or in email.

If you’re a non-citizen, take all the necessary steps to protect your ability to achieve your immigration goals. If you have questions about how something may affect your ability to remain in this country, speak to an experienced attorney.