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Landlord Lets Evicted Medical Marijuana Patient Return Home

December 12, 2018
John Flickner, 78, holds his medical marijuana vape pen inside a Niagara Falls, N.Y., homeless shelter. Although he has a doctor's recommendation, the wheelchair-bound Flickner was evicted from a federally subsidized housing facility that has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, highlighting the conflict between state and federal marijuana rules. (Carolyn Thompson/AP)
John Flickner, the 78-year-old medical cannabis patient who was evicted from his Niagara Falls, NY, apartment last week, was welcomed back by his landlord on Monday. But his hassles are far from over. As a result of the dustup, the program that coordinates his health care has dropped him, leaving him without access to doctors and transportation.

'We are revisiting our policy for this evolving issue. We’ve spoken with Mr. Flickner to let him know he is welcome to return to Niagara Towers.'
LHP Capital, building owner

Flickner was evicted from Niagara Towers, a federally subsidized housing facility, when his landlord discovered that he used medical cannabis to control his chronic pain. Flickner uses a wheelchair and manages his pain with a cannabis vape pen in order to avoid opiates. He spent much of the past week sleeping in a nearby shelter for homeless people.

After the story—originally reported by the Buffalo News—gained nationwide attention, the corporate owner of Niagara Towers reconsidered its zero-tolerance policy. No company likes being known as the one that tossed an elderly man out on the street in the middle of winter for taking his pain medication.

The eviction was “not a reflection of who we are or our resident service values,” the company, Tennessee-based LHP Capital, said in a statement. “We are rescinding our decision and revisiting our policy for this evolving issue. We’ve spoken with Mr. Flickner to let him know he is welcome to return to Niagara Towers.”


Medical Marijuana Patient, 78, Evicted in Freezing Cold for Taking Medicine

Zero Tolerance Didn’t Work So Well

What a difference a little news coverage can make. The company previously had taken Flickner to Niagara Falls City Court to evict him. During that action, LHP’s attorney argued that the tenant violated the company’s zero-tolerance policy by having “marijuana in his apartment and at that time he did not have medical marijuana.”

The story gained nationwide attention, prompting a Trump administration official to call for a reconsideration of federal policy. Lynne Patton, Region II administrator for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), tweeted that “federal law needs to catch up with medicinal marijuana usage & require private landlords to legally permit the same.” HUD policy considers all forms of cannabis to be an illegal Schedule I drug, and the agency forbids its use in federally subsidized housing facilities such as Niagara Towers.

More Problems Coming His Way

Flickner may soon return to Niagara Towers, but now he’s got other problems to deal with.

After news reports detailed his eviction last week, Flickner said the Niagara Falls program that coordinates his medical care suddenly dropped him, leaving him without access to doctors and transportation.

An attorney for the program, Complete Senior Care, said privacy laws prevent him from discussing individual patients. But generally speaking, attorney Jerry Solomon said that because medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, the federally funded program cannot help clients access it without risking its funding.

“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,” Solomon said. “To do otherwise would jeopardize being able to service all the other patients that they have.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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  • Dante-the-cat

    Nowhere near surprised.

  • Denny Brock

    what’s the medical doctors afraid of , he might get well i guess

  • calvet11

    What we didn’t hear about is all the people who have been traumatized by some brainwashed bureaucrat, who won’t give a guy an even break. O’ the big bad government is going to take away all our funding if we let an old man try to ease the last days of his life. I bet up until now the ass hats at Niagara Towers got a Christmas bonus for how many problem elders got thrown out for some petty infraction. Only this time they got caught by a newspaper. Merry Christmas! Asshol*s.

  • Jenna DuCray

    If we are in the midst of an ‘opioid crisis’, and this incredibly brave man is doing everything in his power to avoid using opioids in the last days of his life by using ‘medical marijuana’ that is prescribed to him by a ‘doctor’. Than we can conclude three things here:

    1: Obviously this ‘crisis’ must not be that bad if they are willing to go to such lengths to ‘evict’ someone for using an alternative in the midst of this so called crisis.

    2: Whatever apartment management company that actually evicted him must have so much more medical licensure, medical experience, and or medical knowledge than the physician that prescribed this medication. Since clearly their actions, can be viewed as discontinuing a patients pain management therapy. If however there is no medical practitioner putting his license on this person’s eviction notice than is this not a shinning example of someone / some organization that wants to ‘practicing medicine’ without a license? Now I could be wrong, but what are the fines / penalties / costs of practicing medicine without a license?

    3: If this is allowed to stand what next? Will it get to the point where doctors will need to call up a patient’s land lord for a medical consult to ask if; pretty please can I prescribe (insert medication name here.) to my patient?

    Definitely scary times ahead if these property management companies are trying to position themselves to be the new FDA/AMA all in one. I mean they are already practicing with out a license and not getting so much as a sideways glance when they chose to discontinue a medical doctor’s therapy and evict someone because they don’t like the alternative that was chosen. All I can say is I have so much respect for this man who is dealing with a situation that is so absolutely unfair from start to finish, and how he’s handled all of this with dignity, fortitude, and courage of conviction.