Medical marijuana patient gets to stay in her home
By Anne Stanton
Lori Montroy no longer has to worry about getting evicted from her Elk
Rapids apartment for growing medical marijuana plants, but the reprieve
doesnt necessarily apply to other medical marijuana patients who live in
federally subsidized apartments.
Montroy, who has the deadliest form of brain cancer, received an eviction
notice in early December after telling Susan Grodi, the manager of Elk
Rapids Apartments, that she was growing marijuana in her closet. Grodi is
employed by the property management firm of the Gardner Group of Michigan.
Soon after the eviction fueled national publicity following an Express
article, it was put on hold by the USDA (United States Department of
Agriculture) Rural Development of Michigan, which owns the building.
On December 23, Montroy said that James Turner, the director of the USDAs
state office, called her to say the eviction notice was formally
Montroy, who was feeling very ill when contacted, kept the interview
brief: Praise the Lord! she said.
USDA officials have not announced a policy for all medical marijuana
patients living in subsidized apartments, said Alec Lloyd, public
information coordinator for the USDA Michigan office.
Under the Obama administration, the official policy of the U.S. government
has been not to prosecute medical marijuana patients who comply with state
drug laws. Medical marijuana is legal in the state, but against federal
law. The issue is a difficult one because the controlled substance federal
law must be weighed with other federal laws, such as civil rights laws and
the right to obtain legal medical treatment, Lloyd said.
Montroy began using marijuana in 2006 to help with fatigue, nausea and
crippling headaches. Montroy told Grodi she was growing marijuana during a
random search of her apartment.
Lloyd said Montroys eviction notice during the holidays was a P.R.
disaster for USDA Rural Development of Michigan, who give rural residents
a tremendous amount of help. Last year, the agency helped more than 7,500
rural families in the state pay their monthly rent. Even if it were July
it would be just as unjust. We want to find out how we can help our
tenants and be in compliance with the federal law. Our mission is to
create a quality of life for rural people, and evicting someone with brain
cancer isnt doing that. We are trying to do the right thing, but we dont
get to pick and choose the laws we follow.
In a press release issued after Montroys eviction, the American Civil
Liberties Union of Michigan strenuously objected to Montroys eviction and
said that landlords of federally-assisted housing are not required to
evict tenants who violate federal drug laws. The ACLU maintained that the
Gardner Group had full discretion under federal law to allow Montroy to
stay in her home.
Ms. Montroy is already engaged in a daily battle to stay alive, the ACLU
wrote to the Gardner Group. She is no danger to herself, her neighbors,
or her community... And yet, in the midst of this holiday season, Ms.
Montroy faces eviction from her apartment. You have the ability, and the
moral obligation, to prevent such a miscarriage of justice from taking