AUGUSTA — Tenants in Section 8 housing who use or grow medical marijuana can continue to do so for another six months, Maine State Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners decided Tuesday morning.

The commissioners unanimously voted to place a moratorium on a policy it enacted last month banning the use, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana in housing subsidized through its Section 8 program.

Although the board voted 4-3 in September to enact the policy, it decided to allow additional comments at its meeting Tuesday.

State Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea; Alysia Melnick, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and three caregivers, who are licensed to grow medical marijuana for patients, addressed the board, said Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Maine State Housing Authority.

She said the board enacted a moratorium in order to work with Sanderson and the ACLU of Maine to ask the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for more clarity on the issue.

While HUD has said applicants for public housing cannot use medical marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, it has left local agencies to decide what to do about medical marijuana users who already get public assistance in the 17 states where the drug is legal.

After the commissioners’ vote last month, the agency notified six tenants, whom they knew were growing medical marijuana, that they had to comply with the new policy within 30 days or risk losing their vouchers.

Turcotte said, when deciding to enact the moratorium, the board took into consideration that it could cause people to lose their housing during the winter.

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