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US authorities: Marijuana involvement imperils citizenship

Immigration authorities on Friday said that anyone with any involvement with marijuana, regardless of whether it’s legal in the state where they live, can be denied citizenship because the drug is still illegal under federal law.

The announcement comes weeks after officials in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, began warning residents that working for a dispensary or manufacturing operation could jeopardize their citizenship bids — even if those jobs are state-sanctioned.

The updated guidance from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states that people who use marijuana or are involved with it in any way fail to have “good moral character,” a prerequisite for people who have legal permanent residence to gain American citizenship.

About two-thirds of states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and 10 allow recreational use. Washington, D.C., also allows recreational use.

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is required to adjudicate cases based on federal law,” spokeswoman Jessica Collins said in a statement. “Individuals who commit federal controlled substance violations face potential immigration consequences under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which applies to all foreign nationals regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which they reside.” [Read more at AP News]

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