Longmont marijuana patients won't lose housing benefits

By: Associated Press
February 7, 2014 Updated: February 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm
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LONGMONT  — Medical marijuana patients in Longmont won't lose their housing if they use the drug to treat pain and other issues, reassuring a resident who uses medical marijuana to treat pain and spasticity she suffers as a quadriplegic.

Housing director Michael Reis says officials will now look at individual cases regarding both medical and recreational marijuana before deciding whether to evict people.

Low-income housing authority clients pay 30 percent of their adjusted income and the housing authority pays the rest with federal funds.

"I was very, very happy to hear (the news)," said Ashley Weber, 29, who rents a single-family home in southwest Longmont. "Right now, I'm thankful to the (Longmont) Housing Authority because they did amend the policy."

Previously, the agency had a zero tolerance policy.

"We tried to find some middle ground. We're treating it like alcohol," Reis said.

The new policy focuses on whether a client's marijuana use is abusive or may interfere with the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment by the other residents, the Longmont Times-Call reported Friday (http://tinyurl.com/jwqxqv60).

In 2012, the Longmont Housing Authority informed Weber that she would lose her housing assistance because she uses medical marijuana edibles, a violation of federal law and the federal Housing and Urban Development agency's policies.

The local housing authority learned of her medical marijuana use because she listed the cost as an expense for calculating her rent. Prescription medication can be deducted from one's income, but controlled substances banned under federal law cannot, Reis said.

After the Boulder Weekly told her story, Weber had a strong advocate: Boulder attorney Jeffrey Gard, who has been involved with medical marijuana issues for years.

Gard flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal housing officials. The federal government told him that under its official policy, the government could not allow disabled clients to use medical marijuana while federal law deems it to be illegal.

However, the agency agreed to let local housing authorities decide if clients should be evicted or lose their housing benefits because they use medical marijuana.

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Information from: Daily Times-Call, http://timescall.com/

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