Ombudsman Denies Sick Vancouver Woman’s Bid to Smoke Pot in Apartment

Marilyn Holsten outside VGH after completing one of her 5 day a week dialysis treatments, Vancouver, July 02. She is facing eviction due to her use of medical marijuana which she uses to combat ghost pain from her leg amputations.Marilyn Holsten outside VGH after completing one of her 5 day a week dialysis treatments, Vancouver, July 02. She is facing eviction due to her use of medical marijuana which she uses to combat ghost pain from her leg amputations.Marilyn Holsten’s hopes of keeping her Vancouver apartment have gone up in smoke.

Holsten, a 49-year-old diabetic and double-leg amputee, has been battling her landlord since April 2008 over her right to smoke medicinal marijuana in her home.

At a B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch arbitration hearing June 29, Holsten’s bid to keep her home was denied.

She must vacate her apartment — where she has lived for the past decade — by Sept. 30.

“They say it’s a non-biased thing, the arbitration, but they wouldn’t let me or my lawyer get a word in edgewise,” Holsten said Thursday.

“Right from the get-go I knew I was going to lose.”

The Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society, which runs Holsten’s apartment building in the 900-block East 8th Avenue, is evicting her on grounds that her marijuana use pollutes air in the building.

The society could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Holsten is in a wheelchair. She said she uses the drug to manage her pain levels. Since her last eviction notice, she has obtained Health Canada’s authorization to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, which protects her from prosecution.

Holsten also uses a vaporizer for her marijuana so the smell will not bother others. None of this, she said, was taken into consideration during the arbitration hearing, which was conducted over the phone.

Calls to the tenancy branch were not returned.

Kirk Tousaw, who represents Holsten, said he was “disappointed” by how the proceedings went.

“She is being discriminated against by her landlord because of her disability and her choice of medicine.”

Tousaw said he and Holsten are considering taking the case to court or filing a human-rights complaint.

Holsten, who spends five afternoons a week in dialysis, said she does not have friends or family who can support her if she cannot find a new place to live.

There are 150 people on B.C. Housing’s wait-list for wheelchair-accessible accommodations in the Metro Vancouver area.

She said she is counting on B.C. Housing’s help, but is worried she might be left out in the cold because of her marijuana use.

B.C. Housing does not admit people who engage in criminal activity, including drug use. The stress of the situation has caused Holsten to lose 15 pounds in three weeks.

She now weighs less than 90 pounds. “This [situation]could kill me,” she said. “I have to fight.”

– Article from The Province.

Comments

8 Comments

  1. Sheila O'Neill on

    Marilyn Holsten died August 7, 2009. There will be a memorial service at Hamilton Harron Funeral Home, 5390 Fraser Street. August 18, 2009 at 1:00 P.M.

  2. Anonymous on

    Its sad to read that Canada has become as bad as the US in it’s lack of freedom for its citizens. Perhaps it is time to end the non violent response to all the police attacks on us and begin to fight fire with fire. Drive the cost of policing us up another 10,000 %, Publish the pictures of all Narcotics police, and families with addresses along with judges and prosecutors on the web so that they can begin to be as paranoid as we are.

  3. Dave on

    As a landlord, I would agree. They can’t just remove you, at least not in Alberta, without a court order. I’m sure a reasonably compassionate judge would help find an solution.

  4. Jonny Blazze on

    Kirk Tousaw should take this case to court and Human Rights. Unbelievable……….she is not breaking any law as she has obtained Health Canada’s authorization to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Shame on those kicking her out.

  5. Anonymous on

    does anyone realize that this woman is being denied due process and being discriminated against .Come on her lawyer could not even put a word in at a place that is not a court room.I would take they rears to court and sue.Plus I would force them to go get a court eviction notice which can take months,because they can not remove her with it.

  6. Steve Bottrell on

    What has happened to this country? Why didn’t her neighbors help her by sealing the door so the smell would stay in her apartment and not waft into the hall? Or help her in some way, rather than look down on her. I read the posts in the comments of the Province and I couldn’t believe how heartless the people posting there were. I was stunned. Thanks to Marc she got a vaporizer, no smell, and they still bitched and moaned. Obviously there is an underlying reason. Some one should start a fund to build an apartment for people like her, I would bet there are others. Make sure each apartment comes complete with a volcano, is furnished, and give these people some pride and control of their lives. I’m rambling a bit, but I’m angry. I hope I’m making sense. I would contribute to such a fund. Peace and Pot (love that saying :))

  7. Dave on

    For a while there, I thought this was happening in the US not Canada. So beware, the fanatics (somebody who has extreme and sometimes irrational enthusiasms or beliefs, especially in religion and/or politics) are still in charge! They know they will eventually loose this barbaric war and so, like the Germans did while retreating after they lost WWII, they are setting booby-traps! Unfortunately, those with the fewest resources get the worst of it; hope things workout!

  8. maryjanesuncle on

    is this the way to treat a person, a person who could use some kindness not bitter harassment, these actions should make all involved feel ashamed, it would be childish to say you suck……….but you suck