Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Permit Marijuana Use in Public Housing

A Congresswoman from Washington, DC has introduced a bill that would permit the use of marijuana in public housing. US Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) announced on April 25 that she has introduced a bill permitting the recreational use of marijuana in federally assisted housing in compliance with the marijuana laws of the state. Currently, federal law prohibits marijuana use in public housing and tenants are subject to eviction if caught.

In a press release, Norton said she believes that no one should fear being denied public housing or eviction for using marijuana in a state where the substance is legal. Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana use and 90 percent of Americans support the legalization of the drug, according to Norton’s statement. The Pew Research Center, however. found that 60 percent of Americans support legalization.

“Individuals living in federally funded housing should not fear eviction simply for treating their medical conditions or for seeking a substance legal in their state,” Norton said in the release. “Increasingly, Americas (sic) are changing their views on marijuana, state by state, and it is time that Congress caught up with its own constituents. With so many states improving their laws, this issue should have broad bipartisan appeal because it protects states’ rights.”

Mason Tvert, the spokesperson and media relations director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The North Star that the organization stands behind the bill. Tvert added that federal policies should respect that medical marijuana is now legal in most states.

“People who live in federally funded housing should not face eviction or any other punishment for engaging in an activity that is legal under their state and local laws. This is especially the case for seriously ill individuals who are using medical cannabis, which many patients find is a safer and more affordable alternative to prescription drugs,” Tvert’s statement read. “Like most anti-marijuana laws, the current federal housing policy tends to disproportionately impact people of color. We applaud Congresswoman Norton for taking on these unfair and counterproductive federal policies through this sensible legislation.”

It is unfair for people living in federal housing to be evicted if they are legal marijuana users, Morgan Fox, the media relations director for the National Cannabis, concurred in a statement to The North Star.

“This legislation is absolutely necessary to help decrease the racial disparities in cannabis arrests and citations that continue even after legalization. It is patently unfair that people who live in public housing are forced to risk being ticketed for public use or risk eviction if they want to exercise their rights to legally consume cannabis,” Fox said. “This is particularly important for medical cannabis patients.” Norton has been an advocate for safe, medical marijuana use and pushed for the same bill in 2018 though she is not a voting member of the House of Representatives.

In 2017, she called on Congress to act on responsible cannabis reform and called it a Civil Rights issue. She recently spoke at the National Cannabis Festival at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, DC, on Saturday, April 20, and discussed how she is leading the Congressional effort to remove a rider that stops states from using local funds to commercialize marijuana.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.