Diabetic Woman Dies After Being Evicted For Medical Pot Use

CANNABIS CULTURE – A diabetic double-amputee who was evicted from her apartment for smoking medical marijuana has died. Protest Marilyn Holsten’s mistreatment: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2009 from 12-6pm at the Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society building at 951 8th Ave E, Vancouver.

Marilyn Holsten had been struggling with diabetes and used marijuana to control her pain. When she was given an eviction notice in April because her landlord didn’t like the smell of pot smoke, Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery donated a Volcano vaporizer to Marilyn to help eliminate the problem and make her landlord happy. She was evicted anyway. (Read the stories below).

Protest Marilyn’s treatment and show support for other medical marijuana users on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2009 at the Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society. Don’t forget to tell your friends and share this on your Facebook and Twitter profiles!

Pot-battle double-amputee Marilyn Holsten loses her last fight

Heart attack fells woman who contested eviction for smoking pot
by Andy Ivens, The Province

Marilyn Holsten’s last days on Earth were a living hell, according to her sister, Moira O’Neill.

In frail health, the almost-blind, diabetic double-amputee was ordered evicted from her apartment because of her need to smoke marijuana to control her pain.

Holsten, 48, died earlier this month from a heart attack.

“For a whole year, it went on. It was an unbelievable way to treat someone in her health,” said O’Neill.

Holsten lived in a building operated by Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society in the 900-block East 8th Avenue in Vancouver.

Many of her neighbours told her they did not smell marijuana coming from her apartment, her sister said. But, even though Holsten eventually obtained legal permission to smoke marijuana to deal with excruciating phantom pains, Anavets sought her eviction because of the smell of pot.

“It was a witch hunt,” said O’Neill, who said her sister had to move from her fifth-floor apartment to a ground-floor suite two years ago, after her first leg amputation, for her own safety.

“They knew she smoked marijuana before she moved down to the other suite,” said O’Neill.

“She was in the hospital most of the time, with her amputation — she was gone five days a week, in dialysis six hours a day.”

Holsten fought her eviction at a B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch arbitration hearing in June, but lost.

The night before she died, Holsten visited her older sister.

“We resolved that she was going to stay with me in my small one-bedroom apartment,” said O’Neill.

“She couldn’t take opiates, they made her totally unable to function. Morphine made her throw up, and she was a diabetic, so she had to eat all the time.”

O’Neill said her sister “yelled and screamed before she died,” but help came too late to save her.

“It’s pretty unjust, what happened. She was a fighter,” said O’Neill, who picked up her sister’s ashes Tuesday.

“She was extremely independent all her life.”

O’Neill says her sister was also “a beautiful person” who loved life and her three parrots.

“She had an art project she was working on. She had plans to continue her education. She was an inspirational person,” said O’Neill.

“I’m missing her, but I know she’s got her toes back and is wiggling them in heaven.”

– Article from The Province.

Sick Woman Evicted For Smoking Pot

by Cheryl Chan, The Province
May 6th, 2009

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.

Medical-Pot User Given Way To Eliminate Smell

by John Colebourn, The Province
May 7th, 2009

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. [email protected]

– Article The Province.