If a state moratorium is not renewed by October 1st, medical marijuana patients in Maine may have to choose between their medicine and their federally subsidized housing.
The moratorium allows grandfathered medical marijuana patients to use, possess and grow cannabis while in federally subsidized housing properties. If it is not extended before it sunsets next Tuesday, those patients will have to stop taking the medicine in Section 8 housing or have their federal rent subsidies cut off.
State housing officials believe it is unlikely the deadline will pass without action on the bill, but some medical marijuana patients in the state are nervous as the deadline approaches.
The Maine State Housing Authority board of commissioners is scheduled to consider the yearlong extension at its meeting Tuesday morning in Augusta, authority spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte said Monday.
Use of medical marijuana was legalized in Maine in 1999 and larger-scale dispensaries were legalized in 2009. However, the state’s medical marijuana program is still at odds with federal law, putting programs and agencies that are involved with both state and federal jurisdictions, such as MaineHousing, in a broad gray area.
Initially, MaineHousing erred on the side of caution in 2012 and prohibited medical marijuana use in units funded by federal Section 8 Housing that had not already been given permission to possess medical marijuana.
When asked about whether MaineHousing board members are considering letting the moratorium expire, Peter Anastos, chairman of the board, told the BDN on Monday “we’re not leaning that way,” citing the Justice Department decision to “lay off states” where marijuana has been legalized.