Don LaRouche of Portland, Maine, suffers from glaucoma and Crohn's disease. For the past five years, the 50-year-old has turned to medical marijuana to help treat the effects of his ailments, growing the plants in his residence as permitted by state law. But LaRouche has also relied on federal housing assistance to help pay rent on his trailer home, and the organization that issues his vouchers now says he must stop cultivating the plants or lose his aid.
As Maine's WCSH6 reports, LaRouche's dilemma is the product of a discrepancy between state law -- which has legalized the use and cultivation of medical marijuana -- and federal law, which still lists the plant as an illegal Schedule I drug.
Officials in charge of overseeing the assistance program say that violation of federal law within a residence paid for by its vouchers is grounds for termination of aid, regardless of the practice's status under state law.
"The decision we're presented is whether to terminate or allow them to continue to receive that voucher," Denise Lord, director of the Maine State Housing Authority's Voucher Assistance Program, told WCSH6. "I think given Maine law and federal law we try to find the best possible solution for everyone."
LaRouche told WCSH6 that he has grown the plants in his trailer because its the cheapest method of getting his medicine. He has until July 23rd to stop growing marijuana or lose his assistance and has reportedly already reached out to Gov. Paul LePage (R) and other members of the state's congressional delegation to explore other avenues.
Similar confusion over the conflicting state and federal laws arose earlier this month when the Oregonian reported on a little-known provision of that state's law allowing some food stamp recipients to deduct medical marijuana costs from income when calculating their eligibility for the federal program. Maine reportedly contains a similar measure on these type of deductions.