The Rockford Housing Authority clarifies today, that while the state of Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana on January 1, 2020 after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation into effect in June of this year, Rockford Housing Authority’s residents may not partake in the state’s soon-to-be-legal cannabis industry in their homes.

A STRONG FOCUS ON POLICY PLANNING

Laura Snyder CEO, of the Rockford Housing Authority, states that the “The Board of commissioners and RHA Staff has always had a strong focus on policy planning. We have over the last two months, for each of the RHA Developments which included the Scattered Sites properties, held mandatory resident meetings, with a morning and afternoon session , to address this matter.” It was asserted clearly that the use or possession of marijuana in any form on HUD funded property, in or outdoors, is against federal regulation and constitutes a lease violation, punishable up to and including eviction. “The rules for Section 8 and any HUD funded property are the same. It was also made clear that this includes medical marijuana even if a resident possesses a medical marijuana card,” Christine Manley, RHA Housing Policy Manager stated.

FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED HOUSING

As a federally funded agency, RHA is regulated by federal law and must operate using the interpretation of the Controlled Substance Act that still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, the same category as heroin.

Federal law prohibits marijuana use or possession in federally funded housing, RHA will continue its work to educate and inform residents so they understand all applicable laws related to cannabis and federally funded housing. “RHA is working with our community strategic partners, the City of Rockford and Winnebago County as we develop rules and policies in accordance with existing state and federal laws in order to ensure a safe and responsible implementation of legalized cannabis in 2020,” concludes Laura Snyder. RHA is currently drafting a new policy which will simply be the “Marijuana Policy” and will address medical and recreational use and/or possession. Every resident will receive a copy of the completed policy and be required to sign an acknowledgement of receipt. RHA can and will enforce federal regulation and policy and take necessary actions against any residents, household members, or guest within the control of the resident for violation of the policy or lease.

THE COMPASSIONATE USE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS

Illinois has allowed the medical use of marijuana since the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013, which was expanded in 2018 and 2019. Just as with recreational use, however, the federal government does not recognize this Act and marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act. Schedule I means that it “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” states Christine Manley.