Iraq vet with PTSD worries medical pot use will get him evicted

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- A Mercer Island man is going public about his medical marijuana use, even though doing so could get him evicted from his apartment.

Iraq veteran Alexander Aversano believes his landlord's management company is going too far by banning all uses of marijuana in his apartment complex.

Aversano's battle is being waged in Mercer Island, but it could be the tip of the iceberg as property owners throughout the state wrestle with the conflicting federal and state marijuana laws.

Aversano, who served as an Army gunner in Iraq, has suffered since returning home from combat.

"I have 50 percent disability from post traumatic stress disorder from my time in Iraq," he said.

He's got all the proper paperwork and disability documents from the VA and a doctor who prescribed medical marijuana for his pain.

Unlike most marijuana users, Aversano doesn't smoke the drug. Instead, he takes it orally, taking a drop of marijuana oil on his tongue.

All was well until recently, when Aversano received a document from his apartment management company, Abode Management. The company wants him to sign an addendum to his lease that says, "Any use or possession of marijuana is prohibited regardless of whether the marijuana is smoked or used in some other manner."

"Which would include what I use, this oil," Aversano said. "If it's found out that I'm using that, they say they have grounds for an eviction, which I find very scary."

Tim Seth is the president of the Washington Landlords Association. His group believes landlords are within their rights to evict a tenant for smoking marijuana, but not for using the drug orally.

"They are allowed to do that with proper doctors certification under state law, and we believe under the federal Americans (with) Disabilities Act as well," Seth said.

The Federal Fair Housing Act also prevents discrimination against people with disabilities.

"We are not going to sign this policy and we'll see what happens," Aversano said.

UPDATE: Abode Management issued a statement three days after our story that says the intent of the new marijuana policy was to have a smoke free environment.

"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" says Talvinder Sahota, Operations Director for Abode Management.

The statement further states that none of the residents are obligated to abide by the Smoke Free Policy and sign an addendum until they renew their current lease.

Sahota says the addendum "will be revised to specifically address our intent of a smoke free living environment."