State-Legalized Recreational Marijuana and Federally Assisted Housing
Q With the recent midterm elections, my state has legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Has there been any change in HUD policy with regard to marijuana use in public housing or Section 8 sites?
A Although an increasing number of states have voted to legalize the use of marijuana to some degree, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) continues to list marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug that’s banned at the federal level. This means that the federal government considers marijuana a “substance with a very high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in the United States.”
HUD hasn’t released any guidance specifically related to the use of recreational marijuana in public housing or Section 8 properties. However, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) of 1998 requires PHAs to prohibit admission to the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs based on the illegal use of federally controlled substances. This includes both the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. The QHWRA also requires PHAs to have established occupancy standards and lease provisions that allow the PHA to terminate assistance if a resident is using a controlled substance as defined by the CSA.
In addition, a 2011 HUD memo notes that although new admissions of medical marijuana users are prohibited into the Public Housing and Section 8 program, PHAs have the “discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriateness of program termination of existing residents for the use of medical marijuana.”