New Jersey legalized medical marijuana last year, but Garden State resident and multiple sclerosis-sufferer John Wilson, 37, faces a five-year prison sentence for growing pot plants in his back yard. Wilson was busted back before the state legislature legalized weed for medical purposes, but despite pleading for clemency with Governor Chris Christie, Wilson will do time for “drug manufacturing.” Yesterday an appellate court panel rejected Wilson’s appeal, ruling that someone accused of manufacturing a drug cannot claim “personal use.”
Wilson’s debilitating disease affects the brain and spinal chord, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses like M.S. say that the THC in marijuana provides great relief. But during Wilson’s trial, the judge barred him from telling jurors that he was only growing the plant for his personal use, not for sale, and his lawyers were not allowed to call an expert to testify on the medical uses of marijuana. The appeals court found that the judge ruled correctly, and did not find the sentence overly harsh.
Wilson was also busted for possessing psilocybin mushrooms, but he insists that he wasn’t selling either substance. Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, tells the Jersey Star-Ledger, “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. 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.”
Wilson’s lawyer says his client won’t appeal to the Supreme Court, and he hopes to get accepted into the state Probation Department’s intensive supervision program, which could get him out of prison in four to six months.
By John Del Signore
July 27, 2011 5:45 PM
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