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Woman Evicted From Federally Subsidized Apartment For Using Medical Marijuana

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Woman evicted from federally subsidized apartment for using medical marijuana

January 12, 2011 - mlive.com


At 25 years old, Shannon Sterner said she lives with pain.


The Leoni Township resident has tried medications to manage the effects of fibromyalgia and reactive arthritis brought on by an infection. For the last nine months, she has been using a new method to deal with the discomfort caused by her conditions: marijuana.


But her use of the drug, allowed under Michigan’s medical marijuana law, resulted in eviction from her federally subsidized apartment this week.


“They said I violated my lease for having an illegal substance,” said Sterner, who was ordered to vacate her home at Ridgewood Vista Apartments by Wednesday afternoon. “For me, I was under the assumption it was legal and I didn’t do anything wrong.”


The incident highlights confusion with the 2008 Michigan law, especially as it relates to conflicts with the federal government, which considers the substance an illegal drug.


Sterner and her attorney, Michigan Medical Marijuana Association President Michael Komorn, argue she was not breaking the law. But housing complex managers contend they must comply with federal rules to continue to provide federally subsidized housing.


Tenants must keep their homes free of illegal drugs when they sign a lease, said Gary Offenbacher, executive vice president of Bingham Farms-based Continental Management, which owns Ridgewood Vista.


Offenbacher said Sterner’s neighbors had complained about a smell of marijuana smoke. The Jackson Narcotics Enforcement Team responded to her apartment at 5340 Ridgewood Vista Drive on July 28 and seized five marijuana plants from the back porch, said Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Dave Cook, who leads JNET. The case is pending review from the county prosecutor, Cook said.


Sterner was not arrested and denies growing the plants on her porch. She said seeds might have fallen into a potted rosebush while she was smoking.


Offenbacher said the housing complex was forced to act.


“I can’t dispute her legal use within the state, but there are certain agreements tenants make when they live on federally subsidized property. She was not abiding by that,” Offenbacher said. “The federal government holds us to different standards.”


District Judge Michael Klaeren sided with the housing complex in December in a legal dispute over the eviction. Sterner received an eviction notice Monday.


“It’s distressing because Shannon is sick,” said Komorn, who is considering an appeal. “She is being singled out for her choice of how she wants to treat her medical condition. She was doing nothing wrong.”


Under state law, a patient can have 2.5 ounces of marijuana. If they do not have a specified caregiver, patients can keep 12 plants in an enclosed, locked facility, according to the law.


Federal law requires housing complexes that receive subsidies to have lease provisions that allow them to evict tenants for using illegal drugs, such as marijuana. Still, they can use discretion, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


“While there is a requirement that (public housing agencies) and landlords have lease provisions that give them the right to evict, the decision is theirs and theirs alone,” HUD spokeswoman Laura Feldman said in an e-mail.


Sterner, who has a designated caregiver to grow marijuana for her, said she does not know where she will stay.


She said she grew up in foster care and has no family to stay with locally. She hoped friends would take her and her two children in, and planned to spend Wednesday night with a neighbor, but she did not know where she would go next.


Her boyfriend’s minivan was crammed with bags of her belongings. Anything that did not fit was given away, thrown away or packed into a friend’s storage unit, she said.


Sterner, who attended Jackson Community College before the onset of her ailments and volunteers at the Jackson County Compassion Club, said pain prevents her from maintaining a full-time job, so the rent-free housing was essential.


She said she offered to stop using medical marijuana and return to traditional methods of pain management if she could keep her apartment.


“I’m trying not to lose my normal life,” she said.

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This is why we need to quit who-who footing around and while we enjoy the Medical MJ laws in 15 states and DC, we need to push and push hard for full legalization at the Federal level.


They (the US GOVT) can hold a patent stating that the cannabinoids found in this plant are neuroprotectants and list specific conditions it is beneficial for within the patent - but blowing out the other side of the mouth is "Schedule 1 Drug - NO MEDICINAL USE". It is pure and utter BS and it's HIGH TIME that we fight to change it.


I believe (especially from talking to med mj cardholders) that we've become complacent in our fight - it's like "hey - I've got my card - I'm not speaking out about anything - don't want any problems from LEO or the Feds". That's just crap!


Sorry - this just fries my fritter.

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This is terrible !!


With around 60% of Patients on some form of Disability, she can't be the only Patient in this form of housing. I know better.


“While there is a requirement that (public housing agencies) and landlords have lease provisions that give them the right to evict, the decision is theirs and theirs alone,” HUD spokeswoman Laura Feldman said in an e-mail.


Almost sounds like this HUD spokeswoman is offering a way for HUD landlords to turn a blind eye to legal Michigan cardholders ??


This needs to be taken care of. Pronto !!


If this stands, then it is time for other landlords, who are not involved with HUD, to start opening their doors to legal cardholders.



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I think our president needs to know how much damage the federal law is doing to people. Someone has to have a conscience about throwing a sick person out on the street, if they did, they wouldn't do it. I wish it'd happen to them and they'd be so ill they'd die out there. This federal conflict is the reason for most of the problems our community faces.. If I had a home, (as in, my own house), I'd gladly take her in. Isn't there ANYONE out there who has a home they can let her stay at that's not subsidized by federal money? This is disgraceful. This crap HAS to stop NOW. And hey, I know some witches who are VERY GOOD PEOPLE. :growl::thumbsd::notfair:



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I help pay for this housing. I say she can stay. How about the rest of you who are paying for this. Can't we just tell them that we say she can stay?

I am only joking very slightly here folks.

Do we want a society that destroys lives over cannabis? Obama and Pelossi and Cooper and the Democrats as well as Patterson & all the Republicans (except 1 in Texas) want a society that oppresses and tyrannize all those that they can to be used to further their personal and state agendas. All individuals are fair game to sacrifice for the greater good.

Sure, through em all in the street! Nice country the democrats and republicans have given us. I wish there was a way to get rid of statists. Oh sure, we could vote them out, but we won't. We just want to always blame the other guys statists. That is why it will not change, until we change the leadership from republicans and democrats to individuals who respect and uphold the rights of each individual. And judging by the recent elections and most of the posts since then, many individuals have already stated that they can't wait to get the new (again) statists out and get their statist back in next time. That is why it will not stop until we have a total, 100 % police state here! heads.jpgBorg_Logo.gif

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Well we have to vote our conscience FROM NOW ON. Every year I say I'll vote my conscience no matter what, then I get scared, I'M TIRED of giving in to fear! Imagine what would happen if everyone voted with their hearts instead of their fears! Meanwhile, we need to protect eachother somehow. Despite all efforts, this poor lady was thrown out, AND her children- INNOCENT VICTIMS.. It could happen to anyone living in those places. The problem is with the feds. I lost hope for this world many years ago, though I see some wonderful, compassionate people doing their best, children seeing through the charade of bullies, people stepping up to help fight for privacy, but meanwhile, people like Shannon are being thrown to the streets. What a sad country. People voted with their hearts to accept that cannabis IS a real medicine, yet the People's Will is ignored by those who hate. Now many are in office, I swear we're in a backwards dimension, so many opposites of what SHOULD be, are turned inside out and upside down against us. I haven't the strength for this.


Sb :growl:

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Guest 1TokeOverLine

i made my call to their and left a MSG. and told then to wait and let the court do their job first be for moving her out she has rights

lets fill that message box up


Must have worked, couldn't get them to even answer.



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She should be covered under section 4(a):


4. Protections for the Medical Use of Marihuana.


Sec. 4. (a) A qualifying patient who has been issued and possesses a registry identification card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for the medical use of marihuana in accordance with this act, provided that the qualifying patient possesses an amount of marihuana that does not exceed 2.5 ounces of usable marihuana, and, if the qualifying patient has not specified that a primary caregiver will be allowed under state law to cultivate marihuana for the qualifying patient, 12 marihuana plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. Any incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and unusable roots shall also be allowed under state law and shall not be included in this amount.

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  • 2 months later...

i have been friends with my next door neighbor for over 21 years. she is on the staff of congresswoman candice miller. this lady knows about my medical condition and knows i am a card holding medical marijuana patient. since my wife died she is the only person i have trusted to water my babies and gain entry to my basement when i am in the hospital for treatment. what i want to say is that people living in any type of federally subsidized housing better not register with our medical marijuana program. the lists of names are supposedly being cross-checked by both our state government and the federal government. big brother is out to prove a point on this matter. my advice to any of you in federally subsidized housing is not to register or re-register as they are out to stomp out this law once and for all and if that means throwing people out into the steets so be it.

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  • 3 months later...

This is all soooo sad. I have concidered getting my card and dont know what to do. My doctor told me that if the drug comes up in my urine test I will be discharged and he will no longer treat me. However I live in public housing and because of my disabilities I cannot afford to live elsewhere. My doctor said he will give me a script for methidone or any other drug I choose if I tinkle clean. So I can now become a real drug addict if I dont use marijuana. This is so wrong. What can we do? I'm scared because I dont want the pain that makes me think of ending my life, but I dont want to be so drugged I cant function when I need to. Is the next thing going to be that we lose assistance because marijuana is our drug of choice? I only get $47 dollars a month from SSI because I have other income and wont be to hurt if that happens but I certainly cant afford to pay 500 or more for rent when I only get 630 a month. Unless anyone knows where I can rent for $200 a month I will either take my life or become a zombie. This is so stressfull and I'm doing my best to cope but I'm really scared. Someone tell me there is still hope for me and others like me........

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  • 5 months later...

Ron Paul 2012


Whether you're a conservative or liberal, he's the only guy running who is guaranteed to keep the federal government out of state issues and out of your personal life.


Register to vote no later than January 27, the primary is on February 28. It's crucial that he's the guy to go against Obama if there's ever a chance of seeing the drug prohibition end.

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