Brits in US could be barred if they smoke cannabis in legal states

Brits could be barred from the US for life if they smoke cannabis in states where it is LEGAL, senior lawyer warns

  • Charlotte Slocombe said cannabis smokers risk breaking immigration law 
  • Foreign nationals in America have been expelled from the US and barred for life
  • Path towards legalisation for adult use is on the way in New York and New Jersey

British tourists and expats in America could be deported and barred for life if they smoke cannabis in states where it’s legal, a senior lawyer has warned. 

Possession of cannabis remains illegal under federal law in America but a number of states have legalised, decriminalised or approved its use as a medicine. 

According to Charlotte Slocombe, a senior partner at Fragomen in London, Britons caught consuming the drug in cannabis approved states, like California and Washington could still face arrest and deportation. 

A US immigration lawyer has warned that despite new states like New York and New Jersey looking to legalise cannabis, foreign nationals could still be deported and excluded from the country if they’re caught partaking

In this file photo from October 2018, Nelson Rivera III, left, sells medical cannabis products to Victoria Silva, right, at a New England medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts. According to Slocombe, there are opportunities for customer details to be stored at dispensaries, which can later find their way into the hands of immigration officials 

This can have devastating repercussions, including refusal of future travel or visas.  

After Washington DC and and Colorado legalised marijuana for recreational use in 2013, nine more states followed and more conversions are expected. 

New Jersey and New York are expected to legalise cannabis for adult use in 2020, which has provoked Slocombe’s warning. 

‘Canada legalised cannabis in 2018 but as the US customs and Border Protection keep saying, US federal law has not changed,’ said Slocombe. 

‘What is confusing to people is that while states in the USA have legalised cannabis it remains illegal federally.’

This map shows a break down of cannabis legality by state. There are only eight states left where marijuana remains fully illegal. California, Washington and Colorado are among the states to have completely legalised cannabis consumption 

Slocombe added that cannabis dispensaries can take details from your identification and this could be picked up by immigration. Border control can block you from the country even if you just admit to taking drugs. 

US citizens are still vulnerable to federal law but in the case of cannabis, it’s the immigration law that causes the danger for foreign nationals. 

This danger also extends to businesses providing equipment to state-approved cannabis producers.

She added that even those supplying IT services to cannabis company should be wary.  

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