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Woman fleeing domestic violence denied public housing due to medical marijuana use

INDIANA, Pa. — An Indiana County woman fleeing domestic violence was denied a government housing subsidy because she uses medical marijuana.

An attorney has taken up her case pro bono and is now fighting the state.

“I'm just being patient with the whole thing because I think I'm helping other people as well,” said Mary Cease

Her patience is being tested as she's been denied three times for a Section 8 housing voucher because she uses medical marijuana.


"Nobody should be discriminated against for housing or anything else because of its use,” she said.

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but it's illegal at the federal level. The Indiana County Housing Authority has denied Cease's request for HUD housing because HUD is a federal program.

"Mary is a veteran, she is disabled, she went through the right process to get medical marijuana, she did it to get off opiods, she's fleeing domestic violence, she has zero criminal record," said attorney Judith Cassel.

Federally funded housing authorities do have discretion to decide on a case-by-case basis whether current residents using medical marijuana can stay in the program.

Cassel will now file an appeal to try and overturn the denial, most likely next week.

"She's a perfect person to say, hey, let's test the housing laws in this area because someone shouldn't have to choose between a roof over their head and being addicted to opioids,” Cassel said.