Legal marijuana workers blast citizenship denials over work

Homegrown indoor pot plants and leaves

DENVER  — Attorneys for two immigrants say U.S. authorities denied their clients’ applications for citizenship because of their work in Colorado’s marijuana industry.

Oswaldo Barrientos says he was brought to the U.S. from El Salvador illegally as a child and received a green card when he was 13. Barrientos, now 30, says he was denied citizenship late last year.

Attorneys Aaron Elinoff and Bryce Downer say the denial was explicitly linked to Barrientos’ work at a state-licensed business growing marijuana. They represent at least one other person in a similar situation.

Colorado has broadly allowed the use and sale of marijuana to adults since 2014.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services declined Wednesday to comment on individual cases but said the agency must follow federal law, which considers marijuana illegal.

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