While the use of marijuana is now viewed with much less stigma in Maryland and across the rest of the country, convictions for possessing it may still present problems for permanent residents who wish to apply for naturalization. A conviction may result in a person's facing deportation proceedings even if they have lived in the U.S. for years.
U.S. Customs and Immigration Services generally denies citizenship applications for people who have been convicted of drug offenses. The one exception is for people who have had only one conviction for possessing marijuana in an amount of 30 grams or less. A person who has more than one conviction for possessing under 30 grams may still be denied and referred for deportation proceedings.
This doesn't mean that all people who have a conviction for possession of marijuana will be deported, however. When a person applies for citizenship and is referred for deportation, an immigration judge may still allow the applicant to remain in the U.S. and to keep the status of a U.S. resident.
To apply for naturalization when a person has a marijuana conviction may seem scary. An immigration and naturalization attorney may often help such a client through the process, including completing the application and submitting it as well as highlighting mitigating information that may aid the client in winning the case. A lawyer may also advocate for the client to both keep the status as well as to be granted the ability to become naturalized. Navigating the process alone and without legal help may be very difficult.