Board of Commissioners’ decision denies usage, possession or cultivation in federally subsidized housing units
For Immediate Release October 3, 2012
Media Contact: Deborah Turcotte
MaineHousing Public Information Manager
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.
The mission of MaineHousing is to assist Maine people to obtain and maintain decent, safe, affordable housing and services suitable to their unique housing needs. Please visit our Web site at www.mainehousing.org.
MaineHousing does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, or familial status in the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs, and activities. MaineHousing will provide appropriate communication auxiliary aids and services upon sufficient notice. MaineHousing will also provide this document in alternative formats upon sufficient notice. MaineHousing has designated the following person responsible for coordinating compliance with applicable federal and state nondiscrimination requirements and addressing grievances: Louise Patenaude, MaineHousing, 353 Water Street, Augusta, Maine 04330-4633, Telephone Number 1-800-452 4668 (voice in state only),(207) 626-4600 (voice), 1-800-452 4603 (TTY in state only), or (207) 623 2985 (TTY).