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Immigrants Could Be Denied Citizenship Based On Cannabis Involvement

<p>Public input has prompted the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board to revise proposed rules to the state's marijuana industry.</p>

Alan Sylvestre

Public input has prompted the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board to revise proposed rules to the state's marijuana industry.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced policy guidance Friday that could deny immigrants citizenship based on involvement with cannabis — even if the activity is legal under state law.

The new guidance states that violations of the federal controlled substance law are “generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization.”

People who work in the cannabis industry or people who have had a conviction involving possession or use could be denied citizenship based on this “moral character” judgment.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., is a leader in cannabis reform legislation.

“It should not be allowed to stand,” Blumenauer said of the guidance.

“We will work to change that legislatively and, in the meantime, everybody needs to add their voice to this outrageous policy.

“The people who control our borders have more important things to do — dealing with terrorism, illegal smuggling, human trafficking — and the notion that they would mess around with an irrelevant question that could end up denying them permanent access to the United States is an outrage and needs to be changed.”

Blumenauer established the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and has introduced a variety of bills looking to overhaul what he’s called the “failed war on drugs.”

That includes bills like House Bill 420, which looks to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.