Board of Trustees Approves Removal of a Policy Barrier to Accessing Tribal Housing Units

MISSION – The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) have approved changes to the Housing Department’s Drug Elimination Policy, making it easier for potential residents who test positive for marijuana to obtain tribal housing.

Under the policy changes, applicants are still required to take a mandatory drug test for screening purposes as part of the housing application process. However, an applicant over the age of 21 who returns a positive drug test only for marijuana during screening will not be deemed ineligible and will still be forwarded as an eligible applicant.

The change, which has no effect on the legality of marijuana on the Umatilla Indian Reservation (possession and use remains a criminal offense under both tribal and federal law), is intended to recognize that medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is legal within the States of Oregon and Washington. Therefore this change acknowledges that applicants for tribal housing might have legally consumed products containing the controlled substance THC (the active substance in marijuana) prior to the submission of an application for housing. THC can remain in the body for weeks or even a month or more after last use, depending on a person’s metabolism and rate and pattern of consumption, so a positive test is not indicative of when a person last used marijuana.

The Housing Department continues to maintain a drug-free policy for residents, so evidence of use or possession of illegal drugs, as defined under federal or tribal law, remains subject to investigation for evidence of criminal activity under federal or tribal law. The policy change only applies to positive tests for marijuana as part of the housing applicant screening process.