A family in Lewiston, Maine might be ousted from their home over cannabis plants they keep on the property. Despite the fact that it is legally permissible to use pot for medicinal purposes in the state, these marijuana growers face eviction from their federally subsidized $700-a-month apartment over cultivating cannabis in their own household specifically for medicinal use and pain alleviation.
And considering that Phil and Susan Deschene are both people living with disabilities, the situation is dire at best.
Marijuana Growers Face Eviction Over Federal Cannabis Prohibition
Susan, a 65-year-old family counselor, and her 42-year-old son Phil, received notice from their landlords—a company (ironically) called Preservation Management—that they would be forced to leave their second-floor unit in the Healy Terrace apartments by October 2. The news came after inspectors came to the home on August 23, citing that the pair were “cultivating an illegal substance” on the property.
Initially, Phil Deschene moved back in with his mother—who suffers from a spinal injury, a neurological disease and post-traumatic stress disorder—to act as her caretaker over a decade ago. But then, Phil began to experience symptoms almost two years prior that eventually led doctors to diagnose him with a brain tumor. A subsequent surgery to remove the tumor rendered him almost completely blind.
In order to assuage and alleviate pain from their respective illnesses, both Deschenes consume cannabis. In a recent interview with the press, the older Deschene lamented the emotional toil her son’s pain takes on her.
“There are days he’s in such pain, he can’t do anything,” she told reporters.
While Susan Deschene is in possession of an MMJ license, her son is not—though according to Maine’s state guidelines, he’s eligible to apply.
So what led the Deschenes to use medicinal cannabis in the first place? And why can’t they simply move to another property that isn’t federally subsidized?
The answer is as simple as it is unfortunate: staggering medical costs.
Final Hit: Marijuana Growers Face Eviction
The Deschenes, who are unable to work, currently receive $2,200 from a military pension both receive, which according to them is enough to cover basics like rent, groceries and medicines they require to function on a day-to-day basis.
Even with this pension, however, they do not get enough from the government to cover all of their medical needs. Cultivating medical marijuana is a way to kill two birds with one stone: mitigating pain and helping to cut costs by helping them spend less on prescriptions.
“We started growing because we couldn’t afford to buy all the different medications,” Phil Deschene said to reporters.
“Right now, we have absolutely nothing,” Susan added. “We’re squeezing every way we can…without growing, we can’t change our economic situation.”
As for the reason why Preservation Management is evicting their tenants after years of living at Healy Terrace? That part remains unclear. Even though the property is considered public housing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that tenants can’t have medicinal pot on the premises. According to federal Department of Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Rhonda Siciliano, landlords can use their discretion when it comes to letting tenants stay or go if marijuana is found on the property.
Despite their hardships, the Deschenes remain resolute in their right to use and grow medicinal cannabis.
“It’s not hurting anybody,” Phil added. “It’s not intruding on anybody.”