Watch CBS News

When Pot Is Legal, CHA Residents Won't Be Able To Light Up

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In just a matter of weeks, you can legally smoke pot in Illinois.

Or can you?

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole is clearing the air on why it will actually be illegal in the privacy in some people's homes.

Illinois is gearing up for a bump in demand in smokables and edibles, as recreational marijuana becomes legal come January 1. But at the same time, Chicago Public Housing residents are on notice that the substance won't be allowed in the place they call home.

"This definitely is a civil rights issue. This is discriminatory practices at its finest," said Willie J.R. Fleming with the Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign.

The CHA, according to residents, is circulating notices reminding them their housing is "federally funded" and "under federal law medical or recreational use of marijuana is strictly prohibited."

In other words, it could be grounds for eviction.

"It's totally unfair to say one sector can do something and public housing people can't," Fleming said.

He said he uses medical marijuana and runs the nonprofit Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign.

"This is what I do when I am in public. I choose the edibles," said Fleming.

He is also a former CHA resident. Fleming said the disparity in state and federal law denies low income and poor tenants their civil rights to legal use of marijuana where they live.

"It is a mess," he added.

Eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use and another 22 have medical marijuana laws.

The housing limits apply to all federally run public housing buildings nationwide. Landlords who accept federal housing vouchers in private properties have discretion on wherther to evict tenants using marijuana.

It's another inequity, Fleming said, clouds the issue.

"Public housing residents who are U.S. citizens, human beings don't have the basic civil and human rights protections that other folks have," Fleming said.

Legislation has been introduced in Congress for a public housing exemption regarding marijuana in states where it is legal. It has gone nowhere.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.