UPDATE: The owners of the Niagara Towers, LHP Capital based in Tennessee, released a statement to 7 Eyewitness News Sunday afternoon rescinding Flickner's eviction and allowing him to return to his residence at the Niagara Towers if he wishes to do so.
Statement from LHP Capital:
“The eviction of Mr. Flickner is not a reflection of who we are or our resident service values. 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. He was appreciative and will let us know in the next day or so.”
ORIGINAL: Disabled senior John Flickner from Niagara Falls is now homeless after being evicted from the Niagara Towers on Cedar Avenue for using medical marijuana.
Flickner was evicted this past Wednesday and is now staying in temporary housing at Community Missions in Niagara Falls until a more permanent solution is found.
The 78-year-old man said he needs medical marijuana to deal with chronic pain caused by breaking his back during a skydiving accident in 1968 and having spinal fusions later on.
"It is difficult for me to sit here and talk and hold myself up," Flickner told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly.
Problems started for the senior when it was discovered that he had medical marijuana from a Canadian doctor and dispensary in his apartment.
Flickner then applied and was approved to carry a New York State Medical Marijuana Card to get the drug.
However, the owners of the Niagara Towers, LHP Capital based in Tennessee, went to court and received an eviction order to kick Flickner out.
Calls to the company were not returned to 7 Eyewitness News. A company representative had previously told the Buffalo News that it had a strict policy prohibiting marijuana "of any kind."
HOW COULD IT HAPPEN?
Even though Canada and New York State allow use of medical marijuana, the federal government still considers it an illegal drug.
Niagara Towers provides low-income housing that receives subsidies from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
HUD rules allow public housing agencies (PHA's) to decide on their own whether to allow tenants to use medical marijuana.
In this case, LHD Capital chose to not let Flickner continue living in the Niagara Towers while using medical marijuana - even though it had the option to do so.
Congressman Brian Higgins was made aware of the situation and worked to get temporary housing through Niagara Gospel Rescue Missions and Community Missions in Niagara Falls.
The congressman released the following statement:
“Our office was alerted to Mr. Flickner’s situation late in the day on Wednesday and was able to help make connections that led to him finding a safe living space thanks to the quick and compassionate response of leaders at Community Missions of Niagara and Niagara Gospel Rescue Mission. Mr. Flickner’s personal situation reflects a growing disconnect between state, federal, and Canadian marijuana laws which lead to conflicts and confusion. It is clear there is a need for greater national discussion to facilitate better coordination and clarity.”
Community Missions is now working with Flickner to find new housing.
In addition, the Center for Elder Law & Justice is representing the disabled senior as they consider appealing the eviction ruling.
"He is not using marijuana recreationally. He is using marijuana to get through his day-to-day life." said Kevin Quinn, supervising attorney for the Center for Elder Law & Justice.
You can hear more from John Flickner in Ed Reilly's attached report.