|Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger|
|Multiple sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson is led out of Superior Court after being sentenced to five years in prison for growing 17 marijuana plants behind his house to treat his symptoms|
New Jersey multiple sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson is getting ready to go back to prison. Wilson will resume his sentence after the state Supreme Court on January 20 refused to hear his appeal, according to his lawyer, William Buckman.
The Appellate Court decision that the Supreme Court let stand is “wrongheaded and a vicious travesty,” Buckman said, reports the Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey (CMMNJ).
Wilson was arrested in August 2008 and charged with “manufacturing” 17 marijuana plants that he said he used to treat his MS. He faced up to 20 years in state prison.
At the trial, Superior Court Judge Robert Reed would not allow the jury to hear the reason Wilson grew the cannabis, essential depriving him of his only defense — despite the fact that, after his arrest, New Jersey had legalized medical marijuana (but not its cultivation by patients).
|Ken Wolski, CMMNJ: “This is further proof that there is no justice for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey”|
In December 2009, Wilson was acquitted of the most serious charge, but was convicted of a second degree charge of “manufacturing marijuana.” He was sentenced to five years in prison on March 19, 2010.
“New Jersey Superior Court Judge Robert Reed may be socially a nice guy — for all I know, a good family man and a dog lover,” wrote Toby Grace of Out In New Jersey in May 2010. “In his courtroom however, he’s a jerk.
“Other terms — mostly unprintable — apply as well to a judge who would do what Reed did to multiple sclerosis victim John Wilson of Somerset County,” Grace said.
His conviction and sentencing were affirmed by an Appellate Court on July 26, 2011. The court agreed with the trial judge that there was no “personal use” exemption to the charge of “manufacturing” more than 10 marijuana plants.
It did not matter that Wilson was using the cannabis to treat his MS, the Appellate Court ruled. They agreed that five years in prison was an appropriate sentence.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has ignored calls from State Senators Scutari and Lesniak to pardon Wilson.
“This is further proof that there is no justice for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey,” said Ken Wolski, R.N., executive director of the CMMNJ.
An estimated 15 percent of patients with MS use marijuana for symptom relief, according to the MS Society.
MS is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in New Jersey according to the two-year-old Compassionate Use Act, but because of what many activists see as Governor Christie’s foot-dragging in implementing it, the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is still not operational.