A Maple Ridge woman is preparing for a legal battle with her strata over a cannabis smoking ban.
Tammy Gadsby said a new strata bylaw passed in the spring infringes on her human rights, because she needs medicinal marijuana to relieve numerous symptoms.
Gadsby said the strata should not have the right to tell her what she can do inside her unit.
“In your own suite… I just can’t understand how people think they should have control over other people’s lives.”
Gadsby has lived for 16 years in Fraserview Village on 116th Avenue, and she owns her unit. She lives with her 91-year-old mother, and refuses to sell and leave.
Instead, she is taking a complaint to the Civil Resolution Tribunal which resolves strata property disputes. On Monday, July 15, she will make a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
She didn’t like smoking pot for most of her life, and said her partner’s puffing may have even contributed to the breakdown of an earlier relationship.
But she suffers from mental illness, including anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety. She also has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, that leaves here with pain and “pins and needles.”
“I’ve been through the ringer.”
For 49 years, she tried a number of prescription drugs before turning to cannabis. She said the increasing social acceptance of the drug, leading to legalization of recreational marijuana, brought her to read the research, and then try it.
Gadsby said it has replaced two prescriptions she had been taking – an opioid and benzodiasapine.
She had suffered side effects, including a loss of appetite and nausea.
“I can go days without food. I would drink Ensure, and hope it stayed down,” she said.
“There was always that fear of addiction, and I don’t have that with cannabis.”
She said cannabis relieves her symptoms almost instantly. She has a healthy appetite which leads to improved health.
“I’m using this medicinally,” she said. “The benefits I get from it is more than any traditional medicine.
“It’s the most success I’ve had in treatment, and I’m so afraid to lose it.”
Gadsby has always smoked inside her apartment, and is continuing to do so.
“Nobody knew I smoked it. I had to tell them, and I’ve been smoking since 2015.”
Gadsby said she was “outed” as a user of medical marijuana at a strata meeting when her questions were read aloud.
She has asked the strata to be “grandfathered,” as the new non-smoking rules prohibit smoking anywhere on the property. Or, an exception for her could be made on medical grounds.
The strata responded by requesting health information.
Gadsby said that strata council members are volunteer policy setters for the building, not medical people, and not entitled to her personal medical information.
“If they need to, they can see my prescription.”
She has tried vaping, but finds it difficult to get the right “dosage.” Edibles do not give her the same effect as smoking.
The strata president has not returned calls from reporters.
A lawyer for the strata, Eric Mollema, has told other media the strata told Gadsby’s lawyer it will consider exempting her from the bylaw. But it requires documents including written confirmation from a board-certified medical practitioner that Gadsby has a prescription, detailed her medical conditions, and explained why traditional medicines are not the preferred treatment.