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Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Medical Marijuana Users Facing Eviction

The Denver Post

OLATHE — Bill Hewitt's thrice-daily medicine is laid out on a tiny table in his trailer: a couple of marijuana buds alongside a glass pipe and a Zippo lighter.

Hewitt, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, is a card-carrying medical- marijuana user. And he is living in this worn-down travel trailer because he was evicted from federally subsidized housing on account of his marijuana use.

The difference between Colorado's legal acceptance of marijuana for medical use and federal law, which categorizes marijuana as an illegal drug, is resulting in a housing quandary for the disabled.

Even with the state's OK to use medical marijuana, people such as Hewitt can't live in federal housing or receive federal subsidies for rent under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Hewitt and another medical-marijuana user from Durango have challenged that policy with HUD's fair-housing division and in court. The policy has drawn lawsuits in at least two of the other 13 states that allow medical-marijuana use. But so far HUD has prevailed. HUD officials stress they have no choice in the matter.

"HUD lawyers are very clear about this. There is not to be any substance abuse in federal housing or voucher housing," said Teresa Duran, interim director of the Colorado Division of Housing. "Until the federal laws change, we have to abide by that."

There is no data to say how widespread the problem is. HUD officials say they don't track evictions or complaints tied to medical- marijuana use.

Medical-marijuana users and suppliers say it is common and becoming more so.

"It's safe to say this is a growing problem. We're going to encounter it more," said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a nonprofit resource for medical- marijuana users.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do we need expensive attorneys to figure out a common sense solution?? djw

sunflowerpipes.com said...

There are many good persuasive arguments on why America should legalize marijuana; the problem is that fact has not translated into real political pressure on the people who can change the laws. One of the problems inhibiting legalization is that people that smoke a glass pipe or a hand rolled marijuana cigarette are not considered serious or mature. It is this stigma and the illegal nature of pot that makes people hide their use from public view, therefore reality of who uses pot is different than it seems. Marijuana Legislation is a serious issue and that has profound effects on crime the economy and society. In the end it is up to us to be public about our choices and to voice our opinions to the ones that ultimately decide what is legal. Every hand written letter that makes it to a representative is considered to be the voice of a thousand people who did not take the time to write. Send an email, send a letter, make a phone call and get counted.

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