Despite legal pot law, no weed allowed in Rockford public housing

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Starting January 1st, recreational marijuana use will be legal in Illinois, but not for residents of public housing. The U.S. Government, which subsidizes public housing, still considers marijuana illegal.

Ronald Rider has lived at North Main Manor, a public housing complex in downtown Rockford, for almost eight years.

He says he’s worried that when January rolls around, people will be smoking marijuana in the building.

He acknowledges that some of his neighbors already do.

“I know that it does happen. I’ve had occasions where I’ve had to walk through the hallways, where it’s too much,” Rider said.

Rider says he is a recovering alcoholic. He says the smell of marijuana can be a problem for people dealing with addiction.

“It’s a trigger. Anybody who has an addiction issue, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or anything like that, it’s a trigger,” he said. “I could smell some of that and go, ‘You know what? That looks good, or, that smells good.'”

Alan Zais is the executive director of the Winnebago County Housing Authority.

He says, despite marijuana soon to be legal in Illinois, federal authorities still consider the drug illegal.

Violations within government subsidized public housing units could result in a loss of federal funding.

“And it’s not just the subsidies we get from HUD for the programs,” Zais said. “We get a lot of grants for other programs, too, where we have to verify that we’re a drug-free environment.”

“I just don’t want anybody’s housing [situation to be] affected, and we’re going to advise our residents and just tell them, ‘Don’t do this on the site. Nothing changes for you after January 1st.'”

Zais says the Winnebago County Housing Authority will be sending written notification to all of their tenants about the rule.

A spokesperson from the Rockford Housing Authority says they will hold mandatory meetings in all of their properties, to discuss the rules with residents.

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