Drug Law

New Mexico Man Loses Rent Subsidy for Using Medical Pot

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville

 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A hearing officer on Wednesday will take up the case of a 70-year-old cancer patient who is appealing San Miguel County’s decision to revoke his federal housing subsidy because he uses medical marijuana.

Robert Jones joined New Mexico’s medical marijuana program in October 2008 when he was diagnosed with cancer. The retired political consultant said he was upfront about it, telling county housing authority officials he used marijuana before signing a statement agreeing to follow a rule not to participate in drug-related criminal activity.

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But the housing authority sent him a letter Oct. 12 telling him he would be dropped from the housing program as of Nov. 30. Although medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico, it’s illegal under federal law, and his use violated the rule against drug-related criminal activity, the letter said.

Jones falls under the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s housing voucher program, known as Section 8, administered locally by San Miguel County’s Section 8 Housing Authority. The program, which Jones joined in March 2009, pays $156 of his $400-a-month rent, he said.

Yet another example of why medical marijuana laws are just not good enough and continue to treat vulnerable patients like second-class citizens.  This is not the first time I’ve heard of patients losing their Section 8 housing over legal medical marijuana.  In my time working with Oregon NORML I spoke with many patients who asked me whether they needed to tell their landlord about their medical marijuana use and/or cultivation.  How sad I was every time I had to say, “Lie, keep quiet, or choose between housing and medicine.”