Ask an Advisor: Is Marijuana Legal Now?

OISS Newsletter: Friday January 17, 2020

Question: There has been a lot of talk about the legalization of Marijuana across the U.S. Does this mean it is legal now?


The laws around marijuana use in the U.S. have been changing and it can be difficult to know what is allowed and what is not. Several states have legalized recreational marijuana use, including our neighboring state of Illinois.  You may have even heard others talking about visiting these states to use marijuana.

So what does this mean to you, as an international student or scholar?

If I go to a state where marijuana is legal, can I use it?

Foreign nationals (even green card holders) are subject to federal law, which classifies marijuana as a “Schedule I” controlled substance whose manufacture, cultivation, possession, or distribution may lead to criminal and immigration consequences.

What are the potential consequences of using marijuana?

Doing anything that violates federal laws can impact your immigration status. Admission of drug use, an arrest or a conviction could lead to cancelled visas, criminal records, problems at port of entry, employment issues or even deportation.

What if I use marijuana but I’m never arrested or convicted?

Even if you are not arrested, you can still face consequences. Keep in mind that when you renter the U.S. from abroad you may be asked for access to your cell phone and computer. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents are allowed to search your devices for social media and internet activities.

When it comes to marijuana: Just say no. Marijuana for recreational and medical purposes is prohibited by federal law. Don’t break the law and risk your immigration status.

If you have any questions, please contact your International Advisor.

Written by: India Baker Hudspeth, International Student & Scholar Advisor