Mayor Eric Adams’ vision of erecting cannabis greenhouses on top of New York City’s public housing buildings has run into a significant obstacle: The federal government.
At an April 9 panel discussion in Albany, Adams said his team was exploring whether the city could allow cannabis cultivation on the rooftops of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) facilities. The idea, he said, would be to employ NYCHA residents to staff and oversee the greenhouses as the state continues to roll out its recreational marijuana program for adults.
Marijuana, however, remains illegal on the federal level, including in federally subsidized public housing, which essentially hamstrings Adams’ goal. NYCHA is deeply intertwined with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides more than half the authority’s revenues through subsidies.
Olga Alvarez, a spokesperson for HUD’s regional office, said Adams’ office hasn’t yet reached out to the federal agency about the mayor’s idea for public-housing rooftops.
“HUD has not been approached on this issue,” she wrote in an email.
Asked specifically whether federal law would prohibit the cannabis greenhouses Adams envisions, Alvarez wrote: “There isn’t much more to say, marijuana is illegal in public housing.”