An elderly, disabled couple in New Hampshire is suffering thanks to the United States’ ridiculous classification of marijuana. Lorraine Sevigny, 61, and Brian Cardinale,59, may be evicted from their apartment after police raided their home and found a tiny amount of marijuana — that the couple uses for medicinal purposes — in a jar.
On May 10, Lebanon police carried out a search warrant on the apartment, discovered the marijuana and issued them a citation. Police say they conducted the search after
some busy-body an anonymous source provided them with “drug intel.” Sevingy told officers that she uses the plant to relieve pain from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident forty years ago. Cardinale smokes pot, in addition to taking 18 other drugs, to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). His debilitating illness, which attacks the central nervous system, has forced him to walk with a cane.
“Stairs are my mortal enemy,” said Cardinale.“I’m lucky. I’m not in a wheelchair.”
Medical marijuana is legal in the state of New Hampshire, but Cardinale is unable to get a prescription for it because technically he does not have an address. His apartment was destroyed in a fire in February, so he moved in with Sevingy; unfortunately, the paperwork to put his name on the lease has not been processed yet.
Ordinarily someone would not be evicted from an apartment for a misdemeanor drug citation but the type of complex and federal drug laws makes this case extremely frustrating. The couples’ landlord, Twin Pines Housing Trust, is a non-profit organization that provides the elderly with low-rent places to live. The organization purchased Sevigny’s apartment building in November with the help of a $6.8 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan and that loan is the problem.
When Twin Pines accepted the USDA loan they agreed to a zero-tolerance drug policy. After police searched the couples’ home they notified Twin Pines about the marijuana they found and that triggered eviction proceedings. Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines, said:
“While we recognize that state policies on marijuana are rapidly evolving, we still need to comply with federal restrictions that govern the financing of our properties.”
And therein lies the problem. The federal government still has marijuana listed as a schedule 1 narcotic. A schedule 1 drug is one that could lead to “severe psychological or physical dependence.” MDMA (ecstasy) is considered a schedule 1 narcotic. LSD (acid) is considered a schedule 1 narcotic.
In February 2015, Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), tried to change the classification of marijuana with bill H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. In November 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced its companion bill to the Senate, unfortunately, like every bill introduced by Democrats in the Republican-controlled Congress, the bills never saw the light of day. Had Congress acted and declassified the plant as a schedule 1 drug, this couple would not be worried about their future because the police would have never raided their apartment. But here we are, all thanks to the GOP’s inability to do their job.