Democrats propose marijuana amnesty for immigrants

Congressional Democrats have proposed an amnesty for immigrants with a history of marijuana use, saying those records should not be used to prevent them from gaining a more permanent legal status.

The proposal was tucked inside House Democrats’ 2023 spending plan for homeland security programs.

The language would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from using immigrants’ history of personal marijuana use, including criminal conviction, against them if they are applying for admission to the U.S., or for an immigration benefit such as a green card or citizenship.

The Democratic proposal comes as most states have legalized marijuana use in at least some forms, including many that have legalized it for recreational use. But marijuana possession remains prohibited under federal law.

That creates a situation where someone living as a legal permanent resident in a state where marijuana is legal and who has used it could still have their application for citizenship be denied.

The spending proposal is at the early stages of the legislative process. The bill will see initial action in a subcommittee later this week, but still needs to clear the full committee and the full House, then be squared with an as-yet-unwritten Senate version.

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