Arizona legalized the use of recreational marijuana in January 2020, after a long fight to decriminalize its use in the state. This led Arizona prosecutors to drop thousands of marijuana possession cases pending against individuals who had illegally obtained it without medical clearance. While most adults in Arizona aged 21 and over are eligible to consume marijuana if they so choose, this does not extend to international students studying in the United States. The reason why? As an international student, you are subject to Federal law rather than state law, and Federal law still prohibits the use or possession or marijuana, and Arizona law does not change the policy.
The Possible Consequences
Evidence of marijuana use, even so much as a photo of a joint or a pipe may be reason for customs agents to refuse entry to foreigners. In fact, it could lead to a search of that person’s social media accounts, text messages, or emails. Although most people would think a charge of marijuana possession is subject to less severe penalties compared to other illicit substances, it is still a drug crime, per Federal law, any having marijuana on your person could be considered trafficking a controlled substance.
Marijuana use could ultimately lead to you being deported, though, which could be the most dire consequence of all for the international student who is already accepted and matriculating at an Arizona higher education institution. You will lose all tuition monies you have paid, and you will not be able to complete your course of study if you are deported. A marijuana crime can also bar you from a future petition for U.S. citizenship.
Are You an International Student? Just Say “No” to Avoid Deportation or Worse.
So long as the U.S. law criminalizes marijuana possession and use at a Federal level, the only option for non-citizens is to pass on marijuana use. While some lawmakers would like to introduce bills to legalize and/or decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, so long as it remains prohibited, non-citizens must simply say “no.”
Call Bowman, Smith & Kallen, P.L.L.C. today or contact us online to arrange a consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys. We offer free initial consultations and have over 100 years of combined experience on our side!