MS Patient Appeals Marijuana Conviction To N.J. Supreme Court


Photo: CMMNJ
Wilson was supported throughout his trial by local cannabis advocates, who demonstrated in front of the Somerset County Courthouse.

​An attorney representing multiple sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson, the man recently sentenced to five years in prison for growing marijuana to alleviate his medical condition, has filed an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Wilson, 38, was convicted on the second-degree felony of “manufacturing” marijuana for growing 17 cannabis plants, reports Freedom Is Green. Last month an appellate court upheld Wilson’s barbaric five-year prison sentence, ruling that he could not claim the plants were for personal, medical use.
Wilson has no healthcare insurance to aid him in his battle against MS. His conviction came just as New Jersey’s compassionate use medical marijuana law was passed. Unfortunately, the Garden State’s law was the first medicinal cannabis legislation in the United States that prohibited home cultivation by patients.
Local cannabis advocates supported Wilson, demonstrating in front of the Somerset County Courthouse throughout his 2009 trial.

But during the trial, Wilson was not allowed to reveal his medical condition to the jury. The state now recognizes MS as a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy.

Photo: Freedom Is Green
Attorney Bill Buckman at the PhillyNORML Freedom Forum, 2009

​”New Jersey already has some of the most draconian laws in the nation with respect to marijuana, costing taxpayers outrageous sums to incarcerate nonviolent, otherwise responsible individuals — as well as in this case, the sick and infirm,” defense attorney William Buckman of Moorestown said in a Tuesday press release from the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ).
“As it stands, the case now allows a person who grows marijuana to be exposed to up to 20 years in jail, even if that marijuana is strictly for his or her own medical use,” Buckman, a member of the national NORML Legal Committee, said. “No fair reading of the law would ever sanction this result.”
“This case has shocked the conscience of the community,” said Ken Wolski, a registered nurse and executive director of CMMNJ. “Wilson was unable to present his only defense to the jury — that he used cannabis to treat his multiple sclerosis.”
“The state is now allowing six Alternative Treatment Centers to grow thousands of plants and sell the cannabis to registered patients,” Wolski pointed out. “These ATCs were not available to John in 2008. Cultivation was the only way that he could afford to gain access. We hope that the Supreme Court will provide justice in this case.”
During his trial, Wilson testified that he told the New Jersey State Police that he was going to keep all of the marijuana. Wilson also described his medical condition to officers as they searched his home.
“The misguided appellate decision opinion on Mr. Wilson’s case exponentially worsens the harm of New Jersey’s marijuana laws in ways that could not have been imagined in common sense and reason,” attorney Buckman said.