Insight to unanswered legal questions for Illinois marijuana laws

Legal experts warn immigrants to stay away from dispensaries

Possible Consequences of legal marijuana

CARBONDALE, Il. (KFVS) - As the state of Illinois enters the new year with many new laws, many questions are left unanswred.

On Monday, the state announced its sales for the first weekend of adult-use cannabis, and in five days dispensaries collected more than ten million dollars with more than 271,000 transactions.

While recreational marijuana might be a hit in stores, there are still unanswered legal questions surrounding it. There are still consequences for folks that decide to use the drug.

Former Southern Illinois University student Oneida Vargas took to social media to warn family and friends about those consequences. “Hold on, hold on, hold on. I know you are excited but don’t go in [to the dispensaries], don’t do it,” she said.

Vargas said she knew she needed to share it right away so she could then spread the knowledge of possible deportation to other people.

This hits close to home because Vargas is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. “That’s where people are falling through the cracks," she said. "Outside of just immigrants, people are thinking, well if it’s legal in Illinois,then I’m okay and I can’t get in trouble for it, but federally yes you can.”

Interim Dean of SIU’s Law School Cindy Buys also agrees. Buys is an immigration law and constitutional law professor and she suggests, “If you are not a U.S. citizen, you do not partake in drugs.”

She says there are too many risk for someone who is not a U.S. citizens. “If you’re here on a student visa or you’re here on a work visa, that sort of thing and you’re engaging in marijuana usage because it’s lawful in your state, you may still be risking some immigration consequences under federal law,” she said.

In Illinois, there are more a half of million lawful permanent residents (LPR) or non-citizens who have the potential to be negatively impacted by the new marijuana laws.

However, Professor Buys says the laws can also impact every day citizens as well. “If they want to get a federal job, or they want to be an FBI agent or somersetting like that, then they are going to have to be careful and this is something they are going to have to consider.”

Vargas said,“How to be careful and how to be able to walk that middle ground safely without getting ourselves in trouble with the federal government in any way.”

The use of recreational cannabis is still restricted on SIU’s campus since it remains illegal under federal laws and SIU receives federal funding.

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