Up until a few years ago low-income housing that received federal subsidies were required to maintain a “drug-free” environment. This meant that if anyone living in subsidized housing was caught possessing and/or consuming marijuana onsite, everyone living in the property was at risk of being evicted.
Fortunately, in 2014 the Obama Administration amended this policy to no longer mandate evictions which provided some discretion to housing management. As a result, the decision is now left to property management so they can insist on a “drug-free” environment, but are not required by law to impose such restrictive policies.
Unfortunately, due to inconsistencies in the different policies adopted by property management companies and limited knowledge of the law, marijuana patients residing in subsidized housing are losing their homes. A situation that is becoming all too common. Most recently, John Flickner, a 78-year-old wheelchair bound medical marijuana patient, was evicted from his low-income senior housing facility in Niagara Falls for using medical marijuana that was recommended by his physician.
In response, Lynne Patton, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional official announced that she is working to resolve the ongoing conflict between federal and state marijuana laws as it applies to tenant rights in federally-subsidized housing.
“State & federal law needs to catch up with medicinal marijuana usage & require private landlords to legally permit the same. Period,” Patton wrote. “Regardless, my team is already working with Mr. Flickner & a local grantee to place him in permanent housing again, as anyone else in his boat.”
That’s why NORML is supporting the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act, which would prohibit property owners of federally assisted housing from establishing standards to prevent access to federally assisted housing to anyone who engages in the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana as long as they are in compliance with state laws.