Multiple sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson must complete his five-year prison term for growing cannabis after New Jersey's Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal on Jan. 20, in what attorney William Buckman called a "wrongheaded and a vicious travesty."
Wilson was arrested in August 2008 and charged with "manufacturing" 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. The jury was not allowed to hear details of Wilson's condition, essentially removing his only defense. In December 2009, Wilson was acquitted of first-degree marijuana manufacture, with a sentence of 20 years, but convicted on a second-degree manufacturing charge. He was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2010, with protests held outside the courthouse in Somerville. In July 2011, an appellate court ruling affirmed the conviction and sentencing. Gov. Chris Christie ignored appeals from state Senators Nicholas Scutari and Raymond Lesniak seeking a pardon.
MS is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in New Jersey under the two-year-old Compassionate Use Act, but the state's Medicinal Marijuana Program is not operational yet. "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).
The National MS Society has confirmed that standard therapies often provide inadequate relief for the symptoms of disease, and that cannabis helps with such symptoms as pain and spasticity, and may limit disease progression. An estimated 15% of those with the disease in the US use cannabis for symptom relief.
Chris Goldstein, a member of the CMMNJ board of directors, said: "How many more seriously ill residents are we going to pay to send to prison? We call on Gov. Chris Christie to demonstrate his compassion for qualifying medical marijuana patients...by issuing a pardon for John Ray Wilson." (CMMNJ press release, Jan. 24 via Drug War Chronicle)
Graphic by Americans for Safe Access