Dartmouth medical pot user files human rights complaint

Published on January 7, 2014
John Quinn checks his medical marijuana plants at his Dartmouth apartment on Monday. Quinn has filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission over alleged harrassment by his apartment building superintendant and property manager over his medical marijuana use.
Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper

DARTMOUTH - A medical marijuana user living in Dartmouth says his schooling and family life has been destroyed by harassment over his medical marijuana use.

“It feels like I’m in prison. It feels like I’m sitting in jail right now. My family’s gone, and it feels like I’m being monitored,” said John Quinn on Monday.

Quinn has filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission over alleged discrimination by the superintendant and property manager of his Albro Lake Road apartment.

He disclosed his license to grow and use medical marijuana when he signed a lease in June. Although the building super didn’t raise any concerns then, Quinn said he’s been subjected ever since to repeated police calls, accusations that he’s selling his pot, and investigations by Child Welfare Services.

He was even ordered to leave after an inspection by the property manager in November, though the eviction order was rescinded.

“The only thing that he could do was ask for a copy of my (permit,) because (marijuana) could potentially harm other tenants,” said Quinn. “What about an oxygen tank? That could explode. What’s the difference, in reality?”

The former welder said the marijuana manages his joint pain effectively without affecting his mental state or causing addiction. He grows the plants in a separate unit from the apartment where he lives with his family, and has installed charcoal filters to manage any odours.

Quinn said he’s had to drop out of his upgrade courses because of stress caused by the alleged harassment, and has sent his partner and children to live in Ontario to prevent any further action by Child Welfare Services.

After serving MetCap Living Management with notice of the Human Rights complaint, Quinn said the alleged harassment has stopped – but he still doesn’t feel safe.

“You’ve put my family in danger, you’ve put me in danger, you’ve ruined our Christmas, you made us feel like criminals,” he said. “I want a public apology, but I don’t know that it’s enough.”

Quinn said medical marijuana is a legitimate prescription in Canada, and it’s unreasonable for anyone to persecute a user – or treat them any differently –because of it.

“I know what it’s done for me, it’s changed my life,” he said. “But… the stigma around it is so negative and so wrong. It’s so false. It needs to be changed.”

Neither the superintendant or property manager of Quinn’s building returned calls for comment.

Facts and figures about medical marijuana:

- more than 37,000 Canadians currently licensed for possession

- users currently must be licensed through Health Canada

- rule changes coming April 1 mean users cannot grow their own medical marijuana, but must purchase it from a government-approved supplier

- under the same rule changes, users can be approved by a doctor’s prescription, and won’t need a license from Health Canada