Sick Woman Evicted For Smoking Pot

Marilyn Holsten, a diabetic and double leg amputee, is facing eviction from her apartment at the Anavets seniors housing complex at 951 E. 8th Ave. in Vancouver because of her use of medical marijuana.Marilyn Holsten, a diabetic and double leg amputee, is facing eviction from her apartment at the Anavets seniors housing complex at 951 E. 8th Ave. in Vancouver because of her use of medical marijuana.A double amputee who uses a wheelchair is being evicted from her Vancouver apartment at the end of the month for smoking medicinal pot.

“I’m really scared,” said Marilyn Holsten.

“I don’t want to be out on the streets. I don’t have anywhere to go.” Holsten, a 49-year-old diabetic who is also losing sight in her right eye, has lived for eight years in a building run by the non-profit Anavets Senior Citizens’ Housing Society.

“I get these terrible ghost pains,” she said.

“Doctors say there’s nothing that’ll work for it, so the only thing they suggested was to try pot.”

When she started smoking pot — about a gram a day — she gave a note from her doctor to the society that runs the building on East 8th Ave.

She got her first eviction notice in April 2008.

In order to stay, she signed a document promising that she would light up outdoors only.

“I was exhausted. I didn’t have time to fight,” said Holsten.

Last month, she received her second eviction notice after management said the smell of marijuana from her suite was wafting into the public areas.

Holsten said she tries to smoke outside, but admits she smokes in her room when she wakes up in pain in the middle of the night.

She does her best to diffuse the smell, she said — keeping her window open, using a fan and sprays.

Holsten’s physician, Dr. Fraser Norrie, supports her pot use.

“I agree with this medical treatment,” he wrote in a letter to the housing society.

“I would ask you to accept her medical needs, including her need to smoke marijuana.”

But the doctor’s note wasn’t enough for building management.

“While your doctor supports your decision to use marijuana, he has not prescribed it for medicinal purposes,” society administrator Mary McLeod wrote in a letter to Holsten dated April 24.

“Marijuana use is still against the law and … [as]part of your tenancy agreement, you agreed you would not participate in illegal activities.”

Anavets refused an interview request.

Holsten said she does not have the Health Canada authorization to possess pot.

She had considered applying for the authorization last year, but was daunted by the paperwork.

“I’ve had a lot of health stuff going on,” she said. “I was really trying, but it’s a lot of work.”

Jason Gratl, vice-president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said a person should not be evicted unless his or her behaviour unreasonably interferes with the landlord’s and neighbouring tenants’ rights.

“I doubt smoking medicinal marijuana constitutes an unreasonable interference sufficient to justify evicting a double amputee.”

Jay Leung, spokesman for the B.C. Compassion Club, said the right of the ill to have access to medicinal pot without fear of prosecution has been established as a constitutional right, “but this is not yet reflected in tenancy law.”

He called the federal marijuana access program a “half-hearted attempt,” with authorizations granted to less than 3,000 people across Canada in the past eight years.

The 5,000 members of the compassion club, which has been operating on Commercial Drive since 1997, are in a grey area, said Leung.

“Members are not protected legally, but morally they are, because society recognizes there is a medicinal purpose for their use.”

Holsten remains on the B.C. Housing wait list and said she has no objections to moving if she can get a wheelchair-accessible suite or an assisted-living unit elsewhere.

“It’s very stressful,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe I should feel lucky it’s summer. At least if I’m on the streets, it’s not winter yet.”

– Article from The Province.

Comments

6 Comments

  1. sergio on

    This is just getting out of hands … why the hell would you send sick people on the streets .. i mean she didnt do anything wrong. Its time they leave people alone with cannabis . I dont know why it has to be such a hard process to legalize the product , you cant put prohibition on a product that is demand and expect to have a drug free country lol , that is just retarded …

  2. Anonymous on

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Show some compassion

    Editorial
    The Province

    The non-profit Anavets Senior Citizens’ Housing Society wants to evict Marilyn Holsten from her apartment because she smokes medicinal pot.

    Living in a social housing environment, such as an apartment complex, requires considerable tolerance of neighbours. It is not like living on an acreage where the nearest pain in the ass might be making noise five miles away.

    Living in an apartment means you have to be understanding of the gal down the hall who burns her fish sticks every night; or the couple in the bedroom below who occasionally have thunderous sex; or the guy on the third floor who has replaced his curtains with a gigantic Calgary Flames flag.

    And sometimes it means tolerating the odd whiff of medicinal marijuana.

    In the case of Ms. Holsten, the poor woman is taking puffs now and then to alleviate phantom pains associated with being a double amputee. Worse still, she is a diabetic with rapidly failing sight in one eye.

    Let’s put all the information together in one sentence: The non-profit Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society is evicting a double amputee with failing vision because she smokes pot in her apartment.

    Come on, people. Get serious. First of all, most of us would be hard pressed to find an apartment block anywhere in Vancouver where at least one tenant isn’t firing up the occasional fattie. But this is a double amputee with diminishing eyesight.

    Do the right thing. Don’t evict.

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/todays-paper/Show+some+compassion/1571468/story.html

  3. Anonymous on


    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Medical-pot user given way to eliminate smell

    By John Colebourn, The Province

    http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/www.theprovince.com/news/sick%20smoker%20hopes%20vaporize%20landlord%20dispute/1570470/1570473.bin?.jpeg

    Marc Emery shows Marilyn Holsten how to use a grinder in Van-couver yesterday to prepare her medical marijuana for a pot vapourizer.

    Wheelchair-bound double-amputee Marilyn Holsten is clearing the air in her pot-puffing fight with her landlord.

    Holsten, who faces eviction at the end of the month because she smokes marijuana inside her East Vancouver suite, was yesterday given a vapourizer by pot activist Marc Emery and his wife, Jodie. Emery and his wife dropped the $750 German-made Volcano Vaporizer off at Holsten’s suite on East 8th Avenue and she wasted no time in putting it to use.

    Besides the donated vapourizer, Holsten was also given a baggie of Blueberry Island Sweet Skunk, a marijuana variant prized by pot puffers.

    After a quick instructional session on using the high-end machine, Holsten took a few tokes and sang praise of the machine that allows her to get stoned while eliminating smoke.

    “Wow is this ever nice, it doesn’t burn your throat,” said Holsten, 49, who uses marijuana to help with the unbearable pain she gets in the stumps of her legs. Holsten is a diabetic and has lived for more than eight years in a building run by the nonprofit Anavets Seniors Citizens Housing Society.

    After pot smoke was detected coming from her suite, she was given an eviction notice in April 2008. In order to stay, she was forced to sign a document promising to light up outdoors only. Then last month Holsten was given a final eviction notice after management said the smell of pot was noticed in public areas of the building.

    Despite having a doctor’s note saying she needs to smoke marijuana to ease her pain, the landlord told her to find another place. Emery, who faces possible extradition to the U.S. on drug charges next month, said he is hearing of cases similar to Holsten’s. “We know of many people who are using medical marijuana who are running into problems with their landlords,” he said.

    Holsten has appealed her eviction and has a hearing June 9 with the Residential Tenancy Branch.

    Contact: [email protected]
    Contact: http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/letters.html

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/todays-paper/Show+some+compassion/1571468/story.html

  4. Adimus on

    she’s a 49 year old double leg amputee living in an apartment run by a NON-PROFIT senior citizen’s society. she probably doesn’t have the money to afford a regular apartment and her rent was likely heavily subsidized if the owners were a non-profit organization. “just finding another one” could be a whole lot harder then you would think.

  5. Tom on

    Why does this article keep saying she will be out on the street? She paid the rent for this apartment…why not just find another one? Call ahead and see if they’re cool with it. Or seal the door better. Her situation sucks, but she isn’t helpless.

  6. Tom on

    Why does this article keep saying she will be out on the street? She paid the rent for this apartment…why not just find another one? Call ahead and see if they’re cool with it. Or seal the door better. Her situation sucks, but she isn’t helpless.