N.S. man takes fight for right to smoke medical cannabis at home to court
A Dartmouth man with a physical disability is taking his fight for the right to smoke his medical cannabis in a smoke-free apartment building to Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
He was evicted from his apartment last Friday after other residents in the building complained, and after losing several challenges to that eviction order.
But he's not giving up.
Fifty-seven-year-old Philip Bennett says he spent Friday evening sleeping in the woods in his wheelchair after being evicted from his apartment for smoking and vaping medical cannabis.
“It was raining,’” Bennett said. “I had to cut a garbage bag to put it over my head.”
Bennett has a debilitating genetic condition and needs a motorized wheelchair to get around. He uses medical cannabis for pain.
He knew his Dartmouth apartment building was smoke-free -- which includes a ban on smoking marijuana.
But Bennett says that rule shouldn't apply to medical users.
“If it was recreational marijuana to respect their rights, I wouldn't smoke it in that building,” Bennett said.
With the help of Nova Scotia Legal Aid, Bennett challenged his initial eviction notice -- which was given last August -- but lost at both the Residential Tenancies Board and Small Claims Court. Nova Scotia Supreme Court is next.
His eviction Friday came with only three weeks to go before he can move into social housing.
Now, he's living in a motel with funds raised by members of the medical cannabis community.
The building where Bennett lived is owned by Eternity Developments. Craig Arsenault, the lawyer for the company's owner did provide a statement to CTV News on the matter of Bennett's eviction.
That statement reads, in part: “Mr. Bennett's continued use of marijuana on the premises was a going concern until the day he was evicted. The complaints of several tenants, health related concerns (especially for the youth in the building), and Mr. Bennett's continued failure to follow the house rules all contributed to the decision to proceed with the eviction.”
The head of the association representing property owners in Nova Scotia says it comes down to the rights of tenants who want to smoke or vape and those who do not.
“I think we're all looking for clarity on this and this is where the clarity is going to happen is in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court,” said Kevin Russell of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia.
Bennett will have a more permanent place to live soon, but he's not giving up on his belief that medical cannabis patients should have the right to use what they need where they live.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.