COUNTY TO POT PATIENTS WITH HOUSING VOUCHERS: YOU ARE ‘SUBJECT TO TERMINATION’
(PNN) -- Certified medical marijuana patients who receive HUD Section 8 housing subsidies on Kaua`i “will be subject to termination... if it is found (they) have... marijuana” in their homes according to a letter sent to participants in the program Monday despite Obama administration statements that state laws regarding medical marijuana will be respected by the federal government.
PNN has obtained a copy of the unsigned letter from the Kaua`i County Housing Agency which states:
“The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8 HUD) is a federal program and subject to Federal laws. Federal law trumps state laws. Therefore, under federal law any marijuana use in federally subsidized housing is prohibited. This applies to both current program participants and new applicants.”
The letter, entitled “Important Alert Regarding Medical Marijuana” says that the county agency which runs the federal program, “has received several questions regarding the use of medical marijuana in federally subsidized housing” before describing the provisions of the medical marijuana law passed by the legislature that became law in June of 2000.
It claims “HUD concludes that State laws purporting to legalize medical marijuana directly conflict with the admission and occupancy requirements of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility act of 1998” and that “a state statute ‘is invalid to the extent that it actually conflicts with a... Federal stature,’” although it does not indicate what or who they are quoting in the last segment.
The letter does not make clear whether it is a federally or county generated directive.
While the list of medical marijuana certificate holders is supposed to be kept confidential it is administered by the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) and reportedly distributed to local police departments.
A list of users was “inadvertently” sent to a Hawai`i Island newspaper by a DPS official a few years back and confidentiality has been a problem according to testimony before the legislature this year.
Bills to move the medical marijuana program to the Department of Health and release names only upon request of local police departments was killed by the legislature last session and a bill to study the state’s program was vetoed by Governor Lingle earlier this month.
The letter does not say what constitutes being “found” to have marijuana or, if discovered, whether participation in the program is considered grounds for termination.
In October 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The memorandum on the subject from Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden was sent to United States Attorneys and reads in part:
As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.
We’ll be taking tomorrow off and will be back Monday