Medical Marijuana on Trial
Molokai court weighs eviction of Home Pumehana resident.
By Melissa Kelsey
The legal boundaries of medical marijuana use on Molokai were tested at the Molokai District Court in Kaunakakai last Tuesday. Based on her legal medicinal use of the drug, Gloria Molica is facing possible eviction from Home Pumehana, the senior living center where she resides.
“It is dangerous to the health and safety of the residents,” said Home Pumehana Housing Manager Jersula Manaba, explaining reasons why the living facility does not allow marijuana on its grounds.
Medical use of marijuana is controversial because it is a federal offense, yet since 2000 has been legal in the state of Hawaii. Sixty-two-year-old Gloria Molica said she has suffered from severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder, so much so that her doctor has prescribed her to use marijuana to treat her symptoms. Molica holds a “blue card,” the certificate that allows Hawaii patients to grow, transport and possess marijuana for personal medical purposes with a physician’s approval.
Judge Barclay MacDonald heard the Home Pumehana versus Gloria Molica case. Attorney Maria Sullivan represented plaintiff Manaba. Defendant Molica attended the trial without an attorney.
“I don’t buy, I don’t sell, I do not smoke,” said Molica at the trial. “I vaporize at my own discretion because of my health,” she said.
Self-described as a member of the Kingdom of Heaven: The Religion of Jesus Church, Molica said she also uses marijuana for religious purposes.
“We use it spiritually as a sacrament,” said Molica, describing her religious practices. “We are recognized legally in the state of Hawaii.”
Manaba explained that Molica has resided at Home Pumehana for more than one year. The lease she signed before moving into the facility prohibits drug-related criminal activity, and Home Pumehana has a zero-tolerance policy for violations, according to Manaba. As a result of Home Pumehana being a federally subsidized facility, Manaba said the center’s regulations override state of Hawaii exceptions, including Molica’s medical marijuana card.
“The card does not hold any ground,” said Manaba.
Although Manaba said Home Pumehana has no problem with Molica using marijuana for medical purposes away from the facility, she said it is still illegal to use marijuana on Home Pumehana property.
“I am not a criminal,” said Molica. “I need legal advice and help.”
Because Molica uses marijuana legally for medical purposes, MacDonald did not find probable cause that Molica is a criminal under federal law.
“If she has a medical marijuana card, she is not engaging in criminal activity,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald ordered Home Pumehana to submit a written statement by July 28 explaining why they classify Molica’s legal use of marijuana under the drug-related criminal activity clause in her lease.
“The question is whether or not her activity under a card granted to her violates your lease,” said MacDonald.
For the case, Home Pumehana sought to evict Molica in 30 days. Molica said she wants to move out of Home Pumehana, but requested 120 days to find a new place to live. After Home Pumehana submits the written analysis, Molica will have until August 17 to respond in writing. Home Pumehana will have a second opportunity to respond in writing by September 1. MacDonald said he will make a ruling on the case by September 8, at which time he will decide if and for how long Molica can remain at Home Pumehana.