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Marijuana and immigration in South Carolina

While certain states such as Colorado have legalized marijuana, it is still illegal at the federal level. For those who are non-citizens, admitting to smoking, possessing or distributing it could be an offense punishable by deportation. This may be true even if an individual is not convicted of any crime. One woman was detained at LAX for 15 hours before being sent back to Chile for admitting she had smoked marijuana while in Colorado.

She was accepted to the University of Colorado Boulder and was flying to Los Angeles to meet her boyfriend at the time of her detainment. It is believed that more cases such as hers will occur as additional states legalize marijuana use, which goes against the federal Controlled Substances Act. The woman and others like her can be deported under language found in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The statute provides that someone from another country can be denied entry into the United States because of a violation of state, national or international controlled substance laws. Individuals may be asked questions under oath while personal items can be checked without warrants. Those who don't answer questions while under oath can be removed immediately from the United States.

An immigrant to the United States may wish to work toward becoming a citizen. Citizenship grants additional rights to all such as the ability to use a United States passport and vote in elections. It may also enable them to stay in the country after being convicted of a crime such as drug possession or distribution. An attorney may be able to review an individual's case to determine what is needed to get a green card and then in the future apply for citizenship.

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