Federal law forces Elderly Colorado Woman Out of Her Apartment For Possessing Legal Marijuana

Human Rights

An 87-year-old Colorado woman was evicted from her apartment because the marijuana she possessed legally under state law violated her complex’s agreement with federal regulations, theDurango Herald reported.

“I’ll live in a tent or my car if I have to,” Lea Olivier was quoted as saying. “I’ve got 10 days to move, but when I get knocked down, I get back up.”

Olivier, who lives on a fixed Social Security income, told the Herald that she was forced to find new housing after a compliance officer at her complex told her he smelled marijuana coming from her apartment, which is rent-subsidized. She said she has used marijuana to treat arthritis pain in the past, though she disputed that the smell was coming from her residence.

Housing Authority of Montezuma County executive director Terri Wheeler would not discuss Olivier’s case in particular because of confidentiality regulations. But Wheeler told theHerald that residents in rent-subsidized housing sign agreements specifying that marijuana is not allowed on their property, despite it being legalized under state law, as part of a “zero tolerance” policy regarding drug use.

“We’re not cold about it; warnings have been given for marijuana. For meth, there is no going back,” Wheeler said. “We know there are valid medical uses for marijuana, but we have to comply with HUD regulations, or we lose our subsidies for people who need housing assistance.”

Wheeler added that six residents have been forced out of rent-subsidized housing arrangements for violating the no-marijuana rule since the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012.

Olivier told the Herald that property managers in subsidized complexes tell residents to leave the premises if they want to smoke marijuana, but doing that would violate the state law, which prohibits using the drug in public spaces.

“They told us to go beyond a certain gate or leave in our car and go somewhere else, but we cannot keep anything in our car if it is parked on their property,” she was quoted as saying. “It is ridiculous; I don’t want to live here anymore anyway.”

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