Lea Olivier says she smokes legally-prescribed medical marijuana to ease her arthritis pain–and thanks to some downright spiteful federal regulations, it's about to leave the elderly southwest Colorado woman homeless.
According to the Cortez Journal, federal zero-tolerance drug policies mean that the 87-year-old Dolores, Colorado, resident is getting kicked out of her federally-subsidized low-income apartment. She now has 10 days to find a new place to live.
Olivier, who lives on a fixed Social Security income and has a valid Colorado medical marijuana card, says that a compliance officer said he smelled pot smoke during a routine inspection.
"I don't think it was even me. I've used it before to ease arthritis pain," she told the Journal.
Cannabis is legal in Colorado, but it's possession and use is still illegal under federal law, which makes it illegal to use or possess in federally-subsidized housing as well as federally-operated lands and facilities. Officials in Colorado say that the conflicting state and federal marijuana laws have caused a lot of problems in federally-subsidized housing operations across the state.
"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," Montezuma County Housing Authority executive director Terri Wheeler told the Journal.
Residents living in federally-subsidized housing are subject to yearly inspections, and are evicted if illegal drugs are found.
Olivier says that property managers told her to leave the apartment complex grounds if she wanted to smoke marijuana.
"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," Olivier said.
"Now I have to use pain pills, which I don't like to do."
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