Disabled Senior Evicted For Cannabis Use in Buffalo

Last month, John Flickner, a 78-year-old man in a wheelchair, was evicted from his Buffalo, New York, HUD low-income housing apartment because of cannabis.

Not for growing or selling it, but because he was using it to treat chronic pain from a 50-year-old skydiving injury.

It’s extremely rare that someone obtains a skydiving related anything and lives, and Flickner’s mishap resulted in five fused vertebrae from four surgeries on his spine and hips.

In June 2018, property managers performed a routine inspection of Flickner’s apartment and found some cannabis flower on his table which he had purchased in Canada and brought home.

They called the police, who explained that he needed a New York Medical Marijuana Card, which Flickner obtained two days later, along with a new domestic source for his medical cannabis needs, which are fulfilled by his new vape pen.

As he told the Buffalo News: “It’s a vaporizer,” Flickner said of his prescription. “It’s got a battery and a cartridge fits on it. The oil’s in it. You don’t smoke it. There’s no odor to it.” The vapor relaxes the muscle spasms that make it hard for him to breathe, he said. “Just a minute or two after using it, it starts to take effect.”

But the management at Flickner’s apartment complex didn’t feel that a 78-year-old, wheelchair-bound man with a doctor’s prescription for medical cannabis should be given an exception to their “no drug use in apartment” rule, so they began eviction proceedings.

The company which owns the building, Tennessee’s LHP Capital, has that rule in place at all of the HUD housing they own.

“We don’t allow marijuana of any kind—liquid, smoking, whatever,” said Amy Styles, a spokeswoman for LHP Capital told the Buffalo News shortly before ordering a litter of cute puppies made into a coat for herself.

And so the first week of December, after a trial that lasted an entire hour so you know justice was duly served, Flickner was kicked out, and in 28-degree weather he used his wheelchair to make the considerable journey to his new temporary home, the Niagara Gospel Recuse Mission.

Perhaps realizing that this wasn’t a public relations dream scenario during the holiday season, the compassion-deficient braintrust at LHP Capital had a change of whatever was left of their hearts less than a week later, and allowed Flickner to return to his apartment.

As High Times reported, this came about after his attorney, Kevin Quinn, “obtained confirmation in writing that LHP would allow Flickner to use his vape pen to administer his physician-recommended medical cannabis treatments.”

It’s a responsibility of those profiting from cannabis in the growing recreational market to support efforts to advocate for people like John Flickner.

It’s also a perfect example of why social consumption spaces where medical and recreational consumers can partake should be fast-tracked for all states with regulated cannabis programs.

Evicting disabled senior citizens from low-income housing because of medical cannabis isn’t something that should ever be an option.

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies OregonCannabisConcierge.com and CaliforniaCannabisConcierge.com. His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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