The controversy between state and federal law related to medical marijuana continues.
On Tuesday, December 4, John Flickner was evicted from his apartment in Niagara Falls, New York. The reason? Flickner had been using medical marijuana in his apartment, reports the Boston Globe (1).
Flickner was evicted from the federally subsidized Niagara Towers on the basis of illegal drug use. Even though New York allows medical marijuana, the drug is still not legal under federal law.
According to the Globe, Flickner’s issue began back in June during an apartment inspection that uncovered the marijuana. The landlord called the police who did not arrest Flickner but instead informed him that he needed a medical marijuana card.
Flickner said he didn’t know he needed the card, reports the Globe.
Months later, the company that owns Niagara Towers decided to end his lease. Flickner, who is 78 years old and rides in a wheelchair, had to spend several days at a nearby mission.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) head Lynne Patton stated on Twitter that the department was working on permanent housing for Mr. Flickner (2).
Patton wrote that state and federal laws are behind on this issue. According to her, the law should “require private landlords to legally permit the same.”
At the same time, Flickner’s healthcare has also decided against his case. According to KNBC, the Niagara Falls program is also federally funded (3).
Attorney Jerry Solomon, who is associated with the program, says doing otherwise would put the program in jeopardy for funding. The program has to stick by federal law and therefore cannot associate with anyone using medical marijuana, KNBC reports.
HUD has highlighted a 2014 statement issued by its department in response to this issue (4). The memo details the requirement that federally funded housing must deny entrance to anyone using a controlled substance. Marijuana is included in that definition. However, the memo also gives landlords discretion in evicting current residents suspected of medical marijuana use.
In light of this information, the owning company of Niagara Towers, LHD Capital, has redrawn the decision to evict Mr. Flickner, reports KNBC. The elderly man now has the choice to return or find new housing.
However, this kind of loophole doesn’t appear to exist for Flickner’s healthcare program. Both state and federal governments need to address this issue so that innocent people don’t suffer needlessly.
In the meantime, people like Flickner may fall through the legal cracks.
- Thompson, C. (2018, December 08). Elderly man, 78, evicted for using medical marijuana. Boston Globe. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/marijuana/2018/12/07/elderly-man-evicted-for-using-medical-marijuana/F51sIztUq5wydBUD8OLQOO/story.html.
- LynnePattonHUD. (2018, December 9). State & federal law needs to catch up with medicinal marijuana usage & require private landlords to legally permit the same. Period. Regardless, my team is already working with Mr. Flickner & a local grantee to place him in permanent housing again, as anyone else in his boat [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/LynnePattonHUD/status/1071815826100142080.
- Thompson, C. (2018, December 12). Elderly NY Man Evicted Over Medical Marijuana, May Lose Health Care. KNBC. Retrieved from https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international/Elderly-New-York-Man-Evicted-Over-Medical-Marijuana-May-Now-Lose-Medical-Care-502527271.html.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2014, December 29). Use of Marijuana in Multifamily Assisted Properties. Retrieved from https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/USEOFMARIJINMFASSISTPROPTY.PDF.