Neil Young’s U.S. Citizenship Bid Delayed Due to Marijuana Use

November 12, 2019
Neil Young performing in Oslo, Norway in 2009. CC by SA 1.0. Credit: Per Ole Hagen

Neil Young was all set to become a U.S. citizen this week when he found out that his application had been delayed due to cannabis use.

The Canadian born Young recently applied for dual citizenship so that he could vote in the upcoming U.S. election. He’s been upfront and honest about smoking pot for years and was under the impression that it would not affect his plan to become a dual citizen.

“I want to be a dual citizen and vote,” the “Rockin’ in the Free World” musician wrote in a recent post on his website. “When 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. Recently however, I have been told that I must do another test, due to my use of marijuana and how some people who smoke it have exhibited a problem.”

He then cited policy guidance issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under Attorney General Sessions in April of this year. The guidance stated that “violations of federal controlled substance law, including violations involving marijuana, are generally a bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization, even where that conduct would not be an offense under state law.”

An applicant, USCIS said, “who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws.”

When asked for a comment by The Hill a USCIS spokesperson said that they are unable to discuss, confirm or deny any information regarding an individual’s immigration status. The spokesperson did however, point to a statement which reads as follow, “[The USCIS is] required to adjudicate cases based on federal law. Individuals who commit federal controlled substance violations face potential immigration consequences under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which applies to all foreign nationals regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which they reside.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last month the 74-year-old explained why he feels it is important for him to take an oath of American citizenship now, after living in the U.S. for so many years. “I’m still a Canadian; there’s nothing that can take that away from me. But I live down here. I pay taxes down here. My beautiful family is all down here — they’re all Americans. So, I want to register my opinion. … We’ve got a climate emergency, and governments are not acting.”

Young, in the meantime, hasn’t given up hope that his citizenship will come through and has promised to keep fans updated, concluding his post with “I don’t think I will be able to remain parked here during the proceedings.”

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