Immigration Law

Cyrus D. Mehta: Immigration Inadmissibility, Legal Ethics And Marijuana

Cyrus D. Mehta, Oct. 10, 2016- "Although medical and recreational marijuana activities are illegal under federal lawat least 25 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska have gone even further by legalizing some forms of recreational marijuana, including its production and sale.

This conflict between federal and state law creates a curious anomaly for the foreign national who wishes to enter the United States either as a temporary visitor or as a temporary resident. If a foreign national wishes to invest in a marijuana business in a state where it is legal, and even endeavor to obtain an E-2 investor visa, this person would likely be rendered inadmissible under federal statutory immigration provisions. ... 

...  Just as some state bar ethics committees are finding ways to justify a lawyer’s conduct with respect to advising on marijuana activities deemed legal in many states, but illegal under federal law (although not always enforced if the state considers the activity legal), lawyers who represent visa applicants should also be advancing similar arguments with the immigration agencies.   Until such time that there is a change in the federal law that legalizes marijuana activities, lawyers should be pushing the envelope on behalf of clients who seek visas relating to lawful marijuana-based activities in certain states, while at the same time strongly cautioning them of the risks of adverse immigration consequences. Finally, lawyers advising such clients must carefully consult with ethics opinions in their states to determine what they can and cannot do under Rule 1.2(d)."