Marijuana bill seeks protections for public housing residents in legal-pot states

April 19, 2019 GMT

Marijuana legislation proposed Thursday on Capitol Hill would circumvent federal prohibition if passed to provide protections for residents of government assisted housing.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat, introduced the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act of 2019 in Congress to tackle one of several conflicts created by clashing state and federal pot laws.

Passage of the bill would permit the use of marijuana in federally assisted housing, including public housing and Section 8 housing, in compliance with applicable state medicinal and recreational marijuana laws, explained Ms. Norton, the capital city’s non-voting representative to Congress.


“Individuals living in federally funded housing should not fear eviction simply for treating their medical conditions or for seeking a substance legal in their state,” said Ms. Norton.

Thirty-three states and D.C. have legalized marijuana to varying degrees, but the plant is prohibited under federal law and accordingly banned on U.S. government property.

Current law accordingly allows residents of government assisted housing to be evicted for using marijuana given its placement under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, even in most of the country where it is permitted for medicinal or recreational purposes.

“Increasingly, Americas are changing their views on marijuana, state by state, and it is time that Congress caught up with its own constituents,” Ms. Norton said in a statement. “With so many states improving their laws, this issue should have broad bipartisan appeal because it protects states’ rights.”

Passage of the bill would also require the U.S. Department of House and Urban Development, HUD, to create regulations for restricting smoking marijuana within federally assisted housing in the same way the government currently restricts tobacco use on those same properties, Ms. Norton added.

Spokespeople for HUD did not immediately return a request for comment on Ms. Norton’s bill.

The bill was referred to the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Financial Services, where last month members easily passed another marijuana reform bill meant to resolve conflicting state and federal pot laws. Dubbed the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, that bill would provide legal protections for people who run marijuana businesses in accordance with state-legal pot laws. It passed with by a vote of 45-15 and has garnered the support of 166 co-sponsors in the House, making it among the most popular marijuana bills among lawmakers being considered this Congress.

Sixty-five percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to the results of a CBS News poll released this week.