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NJ MS Patient Loses Appeal, Facing Five Years [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #696)

New Jersey passed a medical marijuana law in January 2010 and, after delays, a series of alternative treatment centers (dispensaries) are set to open soon, but none of that has proven any help to multiple sclerosis sufferer and medical marijuana patient John Ray Wilson.

2009 courthouse demonstration
Wilson was convicted of growing 17 pot plants in 2009 after Superior Court Judge Robert Reed ruled that he could not mention his disease or that he used marijuana to control the symptoms of his disease in his defense. Left with no effective defense to offer, the unemployed, uninsured Wilson was convicted of the charge and sentenced to serve five years in state prison.

Wilson then appealed his sentence to the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division. Late last month, he was turned down, with the appeals court ruling that it would not allow a medical use exemption to the charge of manufacturing marijuana.

Now, Wilson could be jailed any day. A judge is considering his request for bail to be granted while he pursues a final appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Wilson supporters and advocates are furious with a legal system that is rigorous about the letter of the law but heedless of humanity or the spirit of the law. They are especially embittered because Wilson's original trial, where medical doctors were prepared to testify to the medical benefits of marijuana for MS sufferers, took place at the same time as the public and legislative debates over medical marijuana, yet he was not allowed to raise the issue in his defense.

"To know that a safe and inexpensive herb like marijuana is able to relieve the pain and spasticity of MS and to actually arrest the progression of this incurable disease is a compelling reason to use it therapeutically," said Ken Wolski, RN, of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey (CMMNJ). "It is an outrage that Wilson will spend many years in the prison system for this, especially since the law in New Jersey now specifically protects MS patients who use medical marijuana."

Under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, patients with an ID card provided by the state Health Department are allowed to use marijuana with a physicians' recommendation. The law specifies a number of covered medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis.

As New Jersey and Pennsylvania marijuana activist Chris Goldstein noted at Freedom Is Green, medical marijuana supporters and state Sens. Raymond Lesniak and Nick Scutari jointly called on then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) to pardon Wilson last year, to no avail. They are planning a similar appeal to Gov. Chris Christie (R).
"They want to put a sick person away. It's not fair. It's sad," said Ray Wilson, John's father.

While Wilson awaits word on if and when he will be sent to prison, the operators of the six Alternative Treatment Centers have been given the go-ahead by Gov. Christie to expedite their startups. They will soon be producing hundreds or even thousands of plants for New Jersey patients.

It's been a long time coming. After the bill became law in January 2010, it faced a new governor, Christie, who was much less favorably disposed toward medical marijuana. Christie's administration spent months drafting restrictive regulations, then months more fighting with the legislature and advocates over making them more patient-friendly. Earlier this year, Christie again put the program on hold, citing the potential threat of federal action against state employees, but in recent weeks, he gave the signal to proceed.

None of this has so far made any difference to the New Jersey courts when it comes to Wilson's case. Now, only the state Supreme Court is left, and barring a favorably decision there, a pardon from Gov. Christie. And that compounds the anger of Wilson's supporters.

"Our system diligently and punctiliously adheres to the fine points of the law while rejecting any sense of compassion, no less actual justice," said attorney Ed Hannaman, a CMMNJ board member.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Moonrider (not verified)

The mother of one of my grandsons has MS, so I've learned a great deal about it.  Putting someone with that disease in prison is, without any doubt at all, cruel and unusual punishment, he's likely to die in prison before the end of his first year, because medical care in prisons is notoriously inadequate, and often withheld as punishment for imagined offenses (or just plain spite/cruelty), yet his "crime" does not rise to the level of a capital offense.  

What the HELL is wrong with these prosecutors and judges who ask for and hand down these kinds of sentences for people with illnesses?  And how do we change this?

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 3:29am Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

In reply to by Moonrider (not verified)

How can they be so flat out evil? What did we ever do to deserve having to share a planet with these sickos? It's quite bad enough that they try to shove alcohol down the throat of people who prefer much safer weed. But to claim that people who need medicinal cannabis for serious illness are felons is pure fascist league, repugnant to every principle of decency there is. I fervently hope the people responsible for this need medicinal cannabis themselves soon, to make their well-earned painful death bearable. Not a very nice wish, but the war on peaceful cannabis users isn't a game, it's a just for the hell of it hatefest, and I'm not into turning the other cheek to people who hate me as much or more than they hate drunk drivers and boozed up domestic violence perps,

Give it back THIEVES, give us our rights back, before you destroy more than you already have.

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 11:11am Permalink
Debra Rincon Lopez (not verified)

In reply to by saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

I totally agree with you. What a waste of time, money, it's so ridicolous. WHEN There are pedophiles running free in this country, they are prosecuting Pain Patients with Cancer & other serious illnesses. WHEN WILL THIS STOP???

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 12:00pm Permalink
Dale Ramberg (not verified)

In reply to by saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

If the war on drugs was no longer maybe we could use some of that money for medical research and W/O paying for this war the national deficit might be reduced radically and the prisons could be used to house the rapists and murders that belong there.













Fri, 08/12/2011 - 11:47am Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Moonrider (not verified)

Note the (not so) subtle attempt by the politicians (with the willing aid of the media) to put this into the (illusory) left/right political arena and take the focus off the fact those cops deliberately beat that man to death.  Don't let them entice you into that side track.  The Tea Party participants in this fight are fighting back against the police state in the right (non-violent) way it should be fought.  So if you are not a part of getting those who enable, encourage and utilize the police state out of public offices at EVERY level of government, then you are part of the problem.

Also we need to replace those tyrants with people who respect and obey the Constitution, people who have principles like Ron Paul.


Thu, 08/11/2011 - 2:07pm Permalink
ConservativeCh… (not verified)

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 1:00pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

Please note that registration here is very simple (username and password -- no personal information required), doing so allows you to edit your comments, at any time, and it also allows you to immediately know which comments are new.  Just FYI.

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 2:10pm Permalink
The Unknown Pundit (not verified)

Superior Court Judge Robert Reed, you are an evil person.

Joining you in your wickedness is the prosecutor, as there is no doubt that the prosecutor made the request to you to disallow any affirmative defense for Mr. Jones.

Neither of you must have a conscience.

Your actions are taking away the liberty of a man for growing some plants.

Read that again.

You are taking away a man's liberty for growing some plants.

Growing. Plants.

If this isn't tyranny, then I propose the word be stricken from the English language because evidently tyranny is not possible in the 21st century.

I would ask for God's help in all this, but unfortunately, it's his followers that are the biggest political supporters of this tyranny.

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 3:49pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

Congress only cares about 1 type of medicine, that`s pharmaceutical medicine campaign contribution medicine money . Don`t let the SquidBillies have to explain it to ya`. Why cure cancer when there is so much profit involved in it? The modern day " snake-oil-salesman " is far different looking than those you saw in Clint Eastwood shows as a kid. They wear Congressional badges of honor now-a-days.  Welcome to the MACHINE.

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 12:33am Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Five years eh.That's exactly what Marc Emery,a Canadian citisen that never set foot in the US got for selling seeds over the internet and through the mail.The charge did not exist in Canada,where Mr Emery lives and paid taxes ,so the DEA,with the complicit approval of the Canadian government of rabid anti drug Prime Minister Stephen Harper.Kidnapped Marc and had him sent to face the court in the US.This is very similar to the way the head of the UN gang was hijacked from Mexico and arrested in Texas,of all places.Of course he was a real bad guy so that makes it OK.Marc was an advocate for cannabis legalisation who made the mistake of embarrassing the then drug czar,William Waters,who was a friend of President Bush.For that he has been denied a transfer to Canada and is serving a five year sentence in Georgia,about as far away from his home as it is possible to send a person.So I suppose sending a guy with MS to prison is just another brick in the wall.

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 1:59am Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified)

as the scum of the earth. They are really being punked out about this. They should think about how history is going to judge them before they go thru with this.

People who are morbidly obese like the guv'nor of NJ, and people who use America's drug, are far more of a burden to our health care system and our economy than cannabis users ever will be be (physician, heal thyself). Or do the authorities in NJ think it's heads clogging up the emergency rooms on Friday and Saturday night?

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 11:14am Permalink
Colleen McCool (not verified)

Harassing the sick and dying is Un-American and Un-Christian activity!

The Spirit of '76 was the Holy Spirit and is our true north.

Our DEA overseers have harassed the sick and dying, shamed and destroyed families, locked up and killed many (including enforcement) over one of the safest therapeutically active plants known to man; while FDA"overseers" allowed more pharmaceutical killers on the market. Both agencies exacerbate problems instead of solving them. They should be disbanded.

Contact Officials:

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 10:29am Permalink
callum yeater (not verified)

Why don't we just break him out of jail. Once our citizens finally grow the balls to start rioting and taking our Country back from these stupid politicians someone will bust him out. I fully support this. Diplomacy is not working so its time for some more drastic measures

Sat, 08/13/2011 - 1:33pm Permalink

our only hope is that our kids generation and their kids can unravel the  mess we have created, both with the drug laws and our  assistance programs, add an education requirement to sec. 8 etc for and education, both ged and assoc. degree at our junior colleges, we  have then taught a man or woman to fish and they will learn the joy of an education and their new generations will  see the  new joy in these people.s lives  and it is then what it was intended for, a hand up, not a hand  out!!!!!!

Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:23am Permalink

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