Maine State Housing Authority commissioners lift pot ban for 6 months

October 17th, 2012 by admin Leave a reply »

1:00 AM

Maine State Housing Authority commissioners lift pot ban for 6 months

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

Tenants in subsidized housing can continue to use or grow medical marijuana in their homes for another six months, the Maine State Housing Authority’s commissioners decided Tuesday.

The commissioners unanimously voted to put a 180-day moratorium on a policy it enacted last month banning the use, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana in housing subsidized through its Section 8 program.

Despite having decided the issue, which the board had been discussing since June, it allowed additional comments about the policy at its meeting Tuesday.

State Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea; Alysia Melnick, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and three caregivers, who are licensed to grow medical marijuana for patients, addressed the board, said Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Maine State Housing Authority.

She said the board enacted a moratorium in order to work with Sanderson and the ACLU of Maine to get more clarity from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about its position on medical marijuana users in federally subsidized housing.

While HUD has said applicants for public housing cannot use medical marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, the federal agency has left local housing authorities to decide what to do about medical marijuana users who already get public assistance in the 17 states where the drug is legal.

“I think the federal government doesn’t want to be the one to kick people out of

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