Things got a little better for John Flickner, but then they got worse.
Last week the 78-year-old Flickner was evicted from his Niagara Falls apartment for using legal medical marijuana. The building was part of a federally subsidized housing project, and therefore the landlord reserves the power to evict tenants for using the substance even in states where it is legal. However, the property management company LHP Capital has since reversed their decision and said Flickner may return if he wants to.
"I can tell you I really don't want to move back there," Flickner told The Buffalo News, justifiably upset about LHP's conduct. "I was just kicked out by those lovely people there, in the cold," Flickner said. "I will ask them to try to find me another place if they can."
The move came after public outcry arose around LHP's eviction of Flickner, who is wheelchair bound and consumes odorless cannabis via a small vaporizer. US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official for New York Lynne Patton voiced her own disappointment about Flickner's treatment. She has called for regulations to change.
Flickner's attorney, Kevin Quinn, says Flicker will only be moving back in to his old apartment if LHP can guarantee he will be permitted to use his medication.
"I certainly don't want him to face more problems for using that in the unit," Quinn said. "I've spoken with John. He's confirmed he'd like to move back, but I want that confirmation from the ownership that they will permit him to use the device."
And while the fact that Flickner won't have to spend too much more time in the homeless shelter he's been staying in since the eviction, it's not all good news. Flickner's healthcare provider, Complete Senior Care, has since told Flickner they will no longer be coordinating his medical care, citing the federal prohibition of cannabis as the reason.
"Federal guidelines from (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) ban them from prescribing that or allowing access or having anything to do with anyone having medical marijuana," Complete Senior Care's attorney Jerry Solomon told ABC News. "To do otherwise would jeopardize being able to service all the other patients that they have."
Patients should not be discriminated against for using what is a legal and prescribed substance in their state of residence. The federal government needs to stop withholding the funding of organizations that help provide both safe living accommodations and healthcare, and get behind medical marijuana patients' rights.