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A letter from Eric and Marlene Young

By Hempology | June 19, 2002

From: Eric & Marlene Young <>

June 13, 2002

Dear Hempology 101 and Cannabis Buyer Club Members:

This letter is to share a small portion of what we have experienced since Eric has had an exemption to use medicinal marijuana. It has not been a hasty resolve to speak out. However, we may help others by doing so.

We need help!

Eric has multiple sclerosis and legally uses a small bit of marijuana (cannabis sativa) for the treatment of its symptoms and to slow down its progression.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative brain disease that too often leads to great disabilities, from paralysis to blindness. Living with MS is a constant struggle. Help is limited in terms of conventional toxic medication. Marijuana is a wonderful medicinal herb for MS, it has been a Godsend for Eric in the palliative care of the vicious symptoms of this incurable disease. If in doubt about the medicinal benefits of marijuana, please visit the website of GW Pharmaceuticals,, a UK company that develops cannabis-based medicines.

Eric has been prescribed marijuana by his family doctor and has been granted an exemption from Health Canada to possess and grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

There has been a consistent pattern of lying and disrespect, ie: dealing in bad faith with us, because of Eric’s medicinal use of marijuana, by some of our neighbours, the Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC), the BC Human Rights Commission (BCHRC), the Saanich Police, the Residential Tenancy Branch and Health Canada.

Marijuana is a controlled substance and would be commonly recognized by reference to the word “narcotic” or “illicit drug”. Media reports are rife with gangster and criminal portrayals of “drug” use. A stereotype has developed much like the one faced by Rosa Park when she took a seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus in 1955.

At the time, discrimination against black persons was acceptable in the United States and was based, inter alia, on beliefs that the odour and IQ of black people was substandard. They were called “niggers”, debased creatures; second class citizens because of their skin colour.

Marijuana is now legal for medicinal purposes and society must work to change the public attitude towards medicinal use, this is a matter of human rights.

Marijuana is Eric’s palliative treatment. Palliative treatments are protected against discrimination. Eric’s right to consume marijuana should be championed by public agencies such as the BC Human Rights Commission, the Capital Region Housing Corporation or an arbitrator appointed under the Residential Tenancy Act.

On September 01, 2001, we sought and obtained housing from a public agency, the CRHC, and we moved our belongings into our new apartment in a building where tobacco smoking is allowed and apparent. From the first week that we arrived we have been undergoing harassment.

On October 7, 2001, we received the first anonymous letter in our mailbox saying thatwe did not belong in the building and alleging marijuana smoke coming from our suite. This aggressive yet anonymous accusation was a complete and utter shock to us and greatly perplexed us. We had previously lived in an apartment building where the suite doors were very close together and had never received any complaints of odour in the hallway or anywhere. We are very careful with Eric’s smoke and ensure that there is no second hand marijuana smoke in the hallway from Eric’s use. We are good tenants.

We contacted our landlord, the CRHC, and the Saanich Police in regards to theanonymous letter. Neither of these authorities helped or expressed ways to help except to hermetically seal our apartment. When we rejected that discriminatory proposal, we then sought to mediate with the CRHC and the tenants. The CRHC was content to entirely ignore our desperate plea for help, preferring to “leave us to the (anonymous) wolves”.

By October 19, 2001, it was apparent that the CRHC intended to force us out by winking at our neighbours’ harassment. They were hoping that the stress would upset our lives and that we would flee, Eric being ill we are very vulnerable.

Eric filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Commission in November, 2001. The complaint was moved to the investigation/mediation stage in early January 2002.

On January 25, 2002, a BCHRC officer recommended that the claim be dismissed. During the human rights officer’s “investigation” she did not once speak to us or come to the apartment building to check whether or not there was marijuana smoke in the hallway from Eric’s use!

Eric tried to appeal the recommendation only to discover that the recommendation had to be taken to another colleague of the BCHRC officer! Although required under the Human Rights Code, there was no independent Commissioner of Mediation and Investigation. Instead, the BCHRC officer’s recommendation went to her boss who (surprise!) upheld his subordinate’s decision. That has been further appealed although our impression is that the BCHRC lacks the discernment to see Eric’s file for what it is, just as the white man who demanded from Rosa Park that she concede her seat. In any event, Eric must complete the process at the BCHRC before relying on the wise judgment of a Supreme Court justice.

Sensing blood, and on the same day of the BCHRC officer’s recommendation that Eric’s complaint be dismissed, the CRHC upped the ante by serving us with an eviction notice because of a medicinal marijuana sign in our window.

We managed to have that withdrawn by removing the sign. Then the CRHC demanded to search our suite under the guise of an “annual inspection.” Nothing in the Residential Tenancy Act or the tenancy agreement between us and CRHC provides for such a discretionary search. Victoria Arbitrator K. Knott sided with the landlord and issued an amendment to the Act by providing that henceforth, annual Landlord inspections are permitted in BC. Worse, with the analogy of Rosa Parks ever clear, Knotts noted that the mere admitted presence of marijuana in the suite in and of itself justified an inspection! That decision has been put to the Supreme Court by application for judicial review filed on May 31 and is now pending.

Still, the war being waged against us continues unabated. On May 31, 2002, a neighbour who has been dropping objects and liquids from his 3rd floor balcony onto our patio, vaulted over our patio enclosure. We made an emergency 911 call.

Trained to despise all things marijuana, the two Saanich police officers who attended the call became confrontational and demanded that Eric disclose personal medical information about his marijuana exemption status before “intervening”. This demand to disclose this information was irrelevant.

The obvious strategy of the CRHC is to make us either give up, ruin our health, or ruin us financially in ongoing legal costs by making it necessary to ask the Courts for assistance in this matter.

None of the legal proceedings would be necessary if the CRHC simply did it’s job as a responsible landlord instead of letting itself succumb to a stereotype in the first instance and now, engaging Eric and Marlene in an expensive legal fight. Now, the CRHC may well try to shield itself from any public responsiveness under the guise of not wishing to speak of matters presently before the Courts, thus allowing their harassing tenants to continue their work.

We live daily with the stress of the harassment from these cannabiphobic activists. They know that I, Eric, am chronically ill and that Marlene is my caregiver. We are private, quiet and peaceful people who respect all life. Why are we not entitled to subsidized housing? Why are the bullies who live around us encouraged by authority? Why has this situation been left to fester?

We have been deeply affected. Our daily routine has been upset to such an extent that we can no longer maintain the rigorous regime that Eric must adhere to in order to help us live a quasi-normal life with multiple sclerosis.

We have been pushed to the depths of despair by the persecution. We understand what teenager Dawn-Marie Wesley was going through when she hung herself over being bullied.

As stated in a Globe and Mail (March 30, 2002, p. F1) article on Dawn-Marie, what can nip bullying in the bud 90 percent of the time is a quick response from someone in authority who tells the aggressor their behaviour is unacceptable. That has not happened in our case as it did not happen for Dawn-Marie.

Hate and persecution are ugly truths here. Nobody wants to admit that this is what we are enduring.

We are but two people in this fight against discrimination and we need help. If there is anything you can do to help, we would greatly appreciate it. The chair of the CRHC is Carol Pickup and you can write or call her as follows:

Carol Pickup, Chairperson

Capital Region Housing Corporation

101 – 2957 Jutland Road

Victoria, BC

V8T 5J9


(Ms Pickup also sits on the board of the parent agency, the CRD.)

The CRHC belongs to the Capital Regional District and the Chair of that parent
organization is:

Christopher Causton (also Mayor of Oak Bay)


Capital Regional District

PO Box 1000

Victoria, BC

V8W 2S6



  Eric & Marlene Young

  Victoria, BC


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