Diabetic double-leg amputee Marilyn Holsten may have lost her life while fighting eviction for smoking medical marijuana at home, but her struggle survives.
Supporters of medical-marijuana patients’ rights reacted with sadness and anger at the news of her death Aug. 7.
They are organizing a rally next Wednesday, from noon to 6 p.m., in front of the Anavets Senior Citizens Housing Society building in the 900-block East 8th Avenue in Vancouver, where Holsten lived for eight years before being told she had to leave.
“We’re counting on quite a crowd,” pot activist Marc Emery said Thursday. “A lot of people who are similarly disabled will be there.
“It bodes poorly for many people if they can be evicted for such trivial reasons when their health is at stake — such that they might even die,” said Emery, who for decades has campaigned for the legalization of marijuana.
“Our goal is to force the CEO of [Anavets] to resign. What [that person]did was cruel and unfair and inhumane.”
Holsten was in frail health for the past five years, her sister Moira O’Neill told The Province this week. The 48-year-old had both legs amputated, was partially blind and needed dialysis five days a week. She died of a heart attack.
When Emery, who next month is expected to begin serving a five-year sentence in a U.S. jail for selling marijuana seeds, heard about Holsten’s plight earlier this year, he gave her a vaporizer, allowing her to inhale vaporized marijuana without creating smoke.
He also paid for a lawyer to fight Holsten’s eviction at a B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch arbitration hearing in June, which she lost.
“She had a legal right to have [medical pot]. She obviously had a tremendous need,” said Emery.
“It would be a bad neighbour, a bad landlord and certainly a poor human being to expel someone for such a trivial reason.
“Her expulsion created such stress for her that it possibly led to her death.”
Emery’s outrage was echoed Thursday by Jacob Hunter of the B.C. Compassion Society.
“Her imminent eviction … was a cruel situation that highlights the need for serious reform of tenancy laws,” Hunter said in a statement.
“These laws must protect the constitutional rights of those who are living with serious illnesses and conditions to be able to use the medicine of their choice without facing sanctions that would further threaten their health and wellbeing.”
– Article from The Province on August 28, 2009.
Join the BC Marijuana Party in a protest memorial in front of the Anavets building Holsten lived in at 951 E 8th Ave, on Wednesday, September 2, from 12-6pm, in Vancouver BC.