Alan Lee


The recent advent of decriminalization for adjudications based upon possession of small amounts of marijuana has focused much attention upon the harsh immigration consequences of such adjudications for the permanent resident alien. Under section 241(a)(11) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an alien convicted of possession of marijuana is deportable, and only limited means of relief are available. Due to its severity, however, the section has not been viewed with favor by the courts or the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the result in recent years has been the increased use of a number of ploys either to evade the wording of the section or to grant discretionary relief. It is the purpose of this Article to demonstrate that neither the current mood of the country nor the history of section 241(a)(11) justifies the application of its present severe penalties to the simple possession of marijuana. Section 212(a)(23) of the INA, the counterpart to section 241(a)(11) used in exclusionary proceedings before the alien legally acquires permanent residence or entry into the country, will also be discussed when applicable. The principal focus will be upon section 241(a)(11), however, since the inequity is greatest when the alien is deported after he has broken many ties with his native country and adopted this land as his own.