Beloved Canadian singer, Neil Young, has long been outspoken about his cannabis use. Currently a resident of the state of California, Young applied to officially become a U.S. citizen intending to vote in the 2020 election, but his publicity surrounding his own marijuana use could end up preventing his application’s final approval. Young’s website reads, “I recently applied for American citizenship, I passed the test. It was a conversation where I was asked many questions. I answered them truthfully and passed.”
After his initial interview, however, Young was “told that I must do another test, due to my use of marijuana and how some people who smoke it have exhibited a problem.”
Many may not know that in order to become an American citizen, applicants must first pass a “good moral character (GMC)” test. Illegal drug use, including marijuana, is one of several disqualifiers that could cause one to fail the GMC test, even if the applicant lives in a state that has legalized cannabis. On the federal level, marijuana still remains illegal and criminalized in the United States.
This is despite the fact that over 50% of Americans believe that marijuana should be made legal, that is, according to the most recent polling.
According to an April policy update written by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) regarding illegal drug use and its potential impact on citizenship, “an applicant who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack GMC if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity is not unlawful under applicable state or foreign laws.”
The CIS declined to comment on Young’s citizenship case specifically, but a spokesperson did give a statement to CNN which read, “Individuals who commit federal controlled substance violations face potential immigration consequences under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which applies to all foreign nationals regardless of state or jurisdiction in which they reside.”
“Marijuana remains illegal under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance regardless of any actions to decriminalize its possession, use, or sale at the state and local level. Federal law does not recognize the decriminalization of marijuana for any purpose, even in places where state or local law does.”
It is time for federal lawmakers to step in and legalize cannabis on the federal level. The hypocrisy is officially becoming ridiculous. Billionaire Elon Musk, born in South Africa but now an American citizen, is free to publicly smoke marijuana on a podcast without fearing any sort of prosecution at all.
On the other hand, cannabis use could be the only thing preventing otherwise law-abiding applicants from becoming tax-paying U.S. citizens. An outspoken critic of President Trump, Young writes on his website, “I sincerely hope I have exhibited good moral character and will be able to vote my conscience on Donald J. Trump and his fellow American candidates, (as yet un-named). I will keep you posted, but I don’t think I will be able to remain parked here during the proceedings.