Decision denies usage, possession or cultivation in federally subsidized housing unitsWednesday, October 3, 2012
Contact: Deborah Turcotte
MaineHousing Public Information Manager
(w) 626-4617 or (c) 242-1904
Update: At its October 16, 2012 meeting, the MaineHousing Board of Commissioners voted to establish a six-month moratorium on the implementation of this policy. During this time, the Board will be examining the legal and program implications of its policy decision.
AUGUSTA – The Maine State Housing Authority Commissioners recently voted to not allow rental assistance to participants who use, possess, or cultivate medical marijuana in apartments where rent and utilities are federally subsidized under the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, also known as Section 8.
The Board’s action does not affect a person’s status as a medical marijuana user.
MaineHousing recently became aware of a few Section 8 voucher holders who use, possess, or cultivate medical marijuana in their Section 8 units. These tenants have been notified about the new policy and given the opportunity to comply with it.
To reach their decision, commissioners evaluated Maine’s medical marijuana law and federal laws pertaining to medical marijuana use in federally subsidized Section 8 apartments. They considered the additional non-housing-related responsibilities that could be placed on MaineHousing employees who become aware of a Section 8 voucher holder who is using, possessing or cultivating marijuana. And, they assessed the importance of maintaining the privacy rights of tenants as well as security concerns of landlords.
Federal law prohibits illegal controlled substances such as marijuana in Section 8-subsidized housing units. In regards to medical marijuana use, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the federal HCV program, does not allow public housing authorities such as MaineHousing to admit a medical marijuana user into the program. The federal agency does allow public housing authorities in states with medical marijuana laws to set their own policy to address current Section 8 voucher holders who are certified to use medical marijuana.
MaineHousing distributes more than 3,900 Section 8 vouchers under the $25.5 million program, which assist households whose income is less than 30 percent of the area’s median income.
MaineHousing’s policy applies to Section 8 vouchers issued by MaineHousing and not those distributed by municipal housing authorities throughout the state which have adopted their own medical marijuana policies.
Maine’s medical marijuana law gives landlords the right to refuse to rent apartments to medical marijuana users if it could cause the landlord to lose federal funding.