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Senior Citizen Removed from Assisted-Living Facility for Smoking Pot

Photo by Getty Images

Paul Disnard lived in a cabin on an isolated mountain road in the Aspen, Colorado area for many years. Since December, the 68-year-old has lived with 11 other seniors in an assisted-living complex called Whitcomb Terrace—from where he’ll soon be forcibly removed. For his own health. Because he smoked weed.

As the Aspen Daily News is reporting, Aspen Valley Hospital, Disnard’s landlord, has been trying to evict him since February ever since they discovered that Disnard smoked weed.

Disnard argued that “this was all Colorado, and that it was legal to have it”—but the assisted-living facility’s director made the case that for Disnard, who uses supplemental oxygen from a tank, smoking weed is dangerous for himself and others. Because there could be an explosion.

Here’s the paper:

[Whitcomb Terrace director Maggie] Gerardi said people using supplemental oxygen and smoking tobacco or cannabis have had their faces blown up…

I’m concerned for him,” she testified. “He himself is using oxygen.”

A judge ruled in Gerardi’s favor, and Disnard is now on notice to vacate his apartment at the facility immediately. As of now, he says he has nowhere else to go—yet his heretofore landlords are nonetheless pushing for “immediate” custody of his apartment.

A retired contractor who moved to Aspen in the late 1960s, when it was still a boho hippie community where Hunter S. Thompson was a serious contender for sheriff, Disnard moved from an isolated mountain cabin to the assisted-living apartment after his oxygen provider refused to deliver more bottles, the newspaper reported.

He claims he was ratted out for his weed use by a fellow resident because his apartment smelled like marijuana.

“I smell marijuana all the time,” Disnard said in response, according to the paper. “The essence of marijuana is in the air all throughout Colorado. If you don’t like the smell, try Wyoming.”

Disnard didn’t deny being aware that Whitcomb Terrace barred marijuana and tobacco use, but says that the facility’s security guards would hound him—confronting him upon his entry or exit from the building about his cannabis use. Once, a search of his pockets revealed a “broccoli-sized” marijuana bud that he’d “forgotten” about, the newspaper reported. On another occasion, after Gerardi inquired about his marijuana use, Disnard produced a joint from a pocket and started waving it about.

The judge in the case found that Disnard had signed a lease agreement that included prohibitions on smoking marijuana and tobacco—and since he never denied breaking that provision, the judged ruled in Whitcomb Terrace’s favor. Disnard must go.

As of Friday, it appears Disnard will be forcibly removed from his unit sometime in very early May, if not sooner. The judge wants to prevent the unsightly spectacle of a just-evicted Disnard rendered homeless, but he has yet to secure new housing.

Disnard dismissed the safety argument, calling the risk of a smoker using an oxygen tank setting off a fire as an urban legend—which, in Whitcomb Terrace’s defense, isn’t the case. It is indeed a real fire hazard.

But as for why he smoked marijuana despite frequent warnings, complaints from his neighbors, and at the risk of his housing?

“It’s better than taking opiates,” he said, according to the paper.

In the meantime, it’s not looking good for Disnard. If smoking weed while using oxygen doesn’t kill him, the eviction might.

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