B.C. man evicted for medical cannabis use wins first round of human rights case

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A disabled B.C. man who says he was kicked out of his basement suite for using medical marijuana has won the first round of a Human Rights Tribunal case.

According to a March 8 B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision, Julian Miles claims his landlords Ruimin Li and Xiangyang Tan evicted him and his partner from their basement suite because of his use of medical cannabis.

The decision says Miles has physical and mental disabilities and uses cannabis for medical reasons. When he moved into the home he showed the landlords a copy of his cannabis prescription.

The decision doesn't say when Miles moved or where in B.C. the property is located, but in December 2019, he got into an argument about his cannabis use.

"(The landlords) say second-hand cannabis smoke caused their son, who has asthma, to cough, have red, watery eyes, and, on one occasion, to vomit," the decision reads.

The couple also said the cannabis smoke interfered with their son’s daily naps, who was 18 months old at the time.

Miles says the landlords tried to ban him from using cannabis and harassed him. At one point the police were called.

"I have no details on why the police became involved or the outcome of that involvement. Overall, neither party shared many details on the dispute between them," the Tribunal ruled.

A month later, Li and Tan issued Miles an eviction notice so their elderly parents could move into the basement suite.

The landlords say their parents don't drive, do not speak English and need help getting to medical appointments. The parents would also help with childcare.

Miles disputes this and says they evicted him for discriminatory reasons related to his use of medical cannabis.

Miles did move out and at some point launched a Human Rights Tribunal case against the couple.

The couple applied to have the case thrown out, but the Tribunal ruled there was enough evidence to take it to a hearing.

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The Tribunal ruled the case needed to go to a hearing, in part because each party had submitted very little evidence.

"I am confronted by significant differences in the versions of events presented by the parties. Each party says the other harassed them but neither party submits corroborating evidence to support their position on this key issue. Similarly, with respect to Mr. Miles’ allegation that the (landlords) tried to ban him from using cannabis, I am presented with conflicting statements and very few particulars on what the (landlords) did or did not say regarding Mr. Miles’ cannabis use," the Tribunal said.

However, the Tribunal ruled that Miles did have a reasonable chance of proving a connection between his disability and the adverse impacts of not being allowed to consume cannabis.

"I am not persuaded that there is no reasonable prospect Mr. Miles’ could prove his disability was a factor in their decision to evict him," the Tribunal ruled.

The landlords argued they were justified in evicting Miles because his cannabis use negatively impacted their child.

However, the Tribunal ruled they have to justify that their conduct was "reasonably necessary" and that they could not accommodate Miles’ disability without "undue hardship."

Ultimately, the Tribunal ruled those questions needed to be answered at a hearing.

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The case will now go to a hearing unless the two parties work out an agreement through mediation.

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