Mercer Island vet could still face eviction for medical pot use

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 7 at 7:23 PM

Alex Aversano thought he was safe taking medical marijuana in the privacy of his home. It appears he may not be.

Last week KING 5 reported about the new restrictions Abode Management was putting on residents at his Mercer Island apartment complex. After receiving word of possible legal action, the complex is softening its stance, but not by much.

Aversano is a disabled war veteran. He suffers from PTSD and debilitating back injuries from an ambush in Iraq. He uses a liquid form of medical marijuana to ease the pain, but he could soon have to choose between his medicine and his home.

“It’s scary,” said the 31-year-old Bellevue College student. “I signed up in the Army to fight for my country and to fight for freedom and I will continue to do so.”

Last week Aversano came home to a notice on his door at the 77 Central Apartments declaring the property "marijuana free."  An addendum to his lease stated pot use “in any form” is now forbidden. Tenants are also now required to turn each other in if they suspect a neighbor of lighting up. Violating these rules will get you evicted.

“This is one of those times in history where we are on the cutting edge of a new law and we have to be very careful,” said attorney Hilary Bricken, who offered to represent Aversano for free. “I mean, where does the line stop?”

Bricken says leases are governed by state and not federal law, and since marijuana is now legal in Washington, Aversano should be able to continue using it.

“What Abode is doing completely breaks down the barriers of privacy that these people pay for when they rent these units,” she said. But remember, the Iraq War veteran is using a liquid form of the drug. Landlords still have the right to ban all smoking on their properties, evict those who refuse to comply, and even search their homes.

After being contacted by KING 5, the management company for Aversano’s building softened its policy, stating: “Abode respects Mr. Aversano’s service to our country and we were not made aware of his medical condition or his need to use the oral form of marijuana.  Creating a smoke free environment is a work in process which takes effect only upon lease renewals or a new residency.  None of the residents currently residing in an Abode managed project are obligated to abide by the Smoke Free Policy and sign an addendum until they renew their current lease.”

When pressed as to whether people would be allowed to use forms of smokeless marijuana, spokeswoman Talvinder Sahota would only say via email, “The addendum that was delivered to our residents last week will be revised to specifically address our intent of a smoke free living environment. There are no further comments, thank you.”
 

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