New Bill Will Remove Small Marijuana Offences from Impacting Immigration
A new bill could mean massive changes for current laws surrounding immigration and marijuana offences. According to Marijuana Moment, this piece of legislation would no longer put immigrants at risk of deportation or deny citizenship for small-time marijuana offences, such as possession.
Under the current rules, marijuana possession would mean the individual lacks “good moral character,” putting immigrants at risk of deportation and stopping prospective citizens in their tracks.
But with a government more open to cannabis reform and legalization being implemented in more states, some politicians feel that the current immigration policy is not consistent with the cannabis political landscape.
“Weaponization of Marijuana”
Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, one of the most prominent Democrats, is behind the bill. Its rules are simple, but its impact could be far-reaching. As Marijuana Moment explains:
“Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) filed the Removing Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act, which stipulates that “any offenses involving the use, possession, or distribution of marijuana shall not be considered as grounds of inadmissibility.”
But it does not stop there. Not only does this legislation open the door for denied immigrants to reapply, but it also gives deported individuals the same opportunity.
Luján sees this as a way to remove marijuana as an anti-immigration tool:
“In a press release, Luján said that the legislation is necessary in order to combat what he described as the ‘despicable” weaponization of marijuana against immigrant communities by the Trump administration. According to Human Rights Watch, 34,000 immigrants were deported from 2007 to 2012 for cannabis possession.’”
The senator went on to criticize the Trump administration for wasting money on deportations when they should address the overcrowded and questionable conditions at the immigrant detention camps.
“Irrational and Discriminatory”
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws voiced its support as well:
“‘The status quo of marijuana criminalization is irrational and discriminatory towards tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding aspiring Americans who pose no safety risk to the United States,’ NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. ‘Public opinion and policy surrounding cannabis are rapidly shifting, which is why we must ensure that those who strive to achieve the American Dream are treated with dignity.’”
This has always been a major talking point among legalization advocates when referring to American citizens. It only makes sense to extend this to legal and prospective immigrants.
A Long Shot in the Senate
The bill is already gaining a lot of momentum, with 21 co-sponsors – all Democrats – hoping to push the legislation through. Granted, it should sail through the Democrat-controlled House, but will likely flop in the Senate without some bi-partisan support.
Given that this opens the door to a lot of potential immigration, getting Republicans behind the bill will be no easy task. No politician, Republican or Democrat, wants to run afoul of their party by opposing one of its core values.
Even if the bill passes, President Trump can simply veto it.
WeedAdvisor’s Support for Fair Cannabis Legislation
Mass deportations over simple marijuana offences are not inline with the current attitudes and legal progress around marijuana.
If the drug can be legal in some form in the majority of states without federal intervention, then there is no reason why immigrants should be treated differently.
We understand the need to vet potential immigrants, but small marijuana offences pose no risk to the public and should be treated accordingly.