Family, senators and community seek pardon from Governor
Multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson is preparing to resume his 5-year prison sentence after the state Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal on January 20. Attorney William Buckman called the result “wrongheaded and a vicious travesty.”
Wilson was arrested on August 18, 2008 and charged with “manufacturing” 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson faced 20 years in state prison for this crime.
The jury was not allowed to hear details about Wilson's condition, essentially removing his only defense. In December 2009, Wilson was acquitted of the most serious charge but convicted of a second-degree charge of manufacturing marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison on March 19, 2010. Members of the community protested outside the courthouse in Somerville.
On July 26, 2011, an appellate court ruling affirmed the conviction and sentencing. The court agreed with the trial judge there was no “personal use” exemption to the charge. They agreed that five years in prison for this crime was an appropriate sentence.
Governor Chris Christie ignored appeals from state Senators Nicholas Scutari and Raymond Lesniak seeking a pardon. The official pardon request to the Office of the Governor remains active.
“This is further proof that there is no justice for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey," said Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ).
MS is a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy in New Jersey according to the two-year-old Compassionate Use Act, but the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is not operational yet.
The National MS Society confirmed that standard therapies often provide inadequate relief for the symptoms of MS and that marijuana helps with MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity and could limit disease progression. An estimated 15% of people with the disease use marijuana for symptom relief.
Chris Goldstein on the Board of Directors at CMMNJ said, "How many more seriously ill residents are we going to pay to send to prison? We call on Governor Chris Christie to demonstrate his compassion for qualifying medical marijuana patients and his commitment to a new stance on non-violent drug offenders by issuing a pardon for John Ray Wilson."
For more information about this release, please contact Ken Wolski (609) 394 2137 or Chris Goldstein (267) 702 3731.
CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618