Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Judge Reed, be lenient with John Wilson--a medical marijuana patient, not a criminal

In addition to sending letters like the one I sent to Judge Reed (below) asking for leniency for John Wilson, please send e-mails to Governor Jon Corzine asking him for an outright pardon for Wilson. It's easy. Just go to: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=14300601

December 28, 2009

Hon. Robert B. Reed, J.S.C.
P.O. Box 3000
Somerville NJ 08876

Dear Judge Reed:

I am writing to ask you for leniency when you sentence John Ray Wilson on February 5, 2010.

John Wilson is a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient who was using marijuana to ease the symptoms of his disease. Now he faces many years in a New Jersey state prison for doing so. I believe it is a travesty of justice to imprison any seriously ill patient for using marijuana to relieve suffering. It is especially disturbing when the patient has MS. I don’t know if you ever saw a patient suffer and die from MS, but I certainly have in my 33 years as a registered nurse (RN). It’s not a pretty sight. MS is a terrible disease that strikes otherwise healthy young adults in their 20’s and 30’s. It is chronic (meaning it lasts a lifetime) and progressive (meaning it only gets worse). There is no cure. The progressive course of this disease leads patients first to a wheelchair, and then to a bed where they often choke to death on their own secretions or die of pneumonia. Along the way they are racked with dreadful pain and spasms that traditional medications cannot relieve.

The National MS Society recently confirmed in an Expert Opinion Paper that standard therapies often provide inadequate relief for the symptoms of MS and that marijuana helps with MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity. Moreover, these experts suggested that the neuroprotective effects of marijuana could halt the progression of this disease—stop it from getting worse.* These are compelling reasons for MS sufferers to use marijuana therapeutically.

Marijuana shows such promise as an adjunct in the management of MS, as well as other neurological diseases, that there should be numerous medical studies conducted to aggressively determine the limits of marijuana’s therapeutic potential. Instead, not a single clinical study of marijuana is being done in New Jersey, nor has there ever been such a study in this state. A patient in New Jersey, who is faced with the grim prognosis of MS and the hope that marijuana offers, currently has no choice but to break the law.

The New Jersey legislature stands on the brink of legalizing marijuana for MS patients like John Wilson. Hopefully, the “NJ Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” (S-119 & A-804), will pass into law even before you sentence Mr. Wilson. But if the lawmakers delay, it is inevitable that medical marijuana will eventually be legalized in New Jersey. The science supporting medical marijuana is too compelling to deny, as I’m sure you will agree when you review the references I have provided, below.

Justice, compassion, and even fiscal common sense all support a most lenient sentence for John Wilson. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Sincerely yours,

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) is an all-volunteer, 501 (c)(3) public charity whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of medical marijuana (cannabinoids). For more information, visit our website at: www.cmmnj.org

* “Recommendations Regarding the Use of Cannabis in Multiple Sclerosis,” Expert Opinion Paper, National Clinical Advisory Board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2008.

See also: “Multiple Sclerosis and Medical Cannabis,” Americans for Safe Access, 2008. http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=4558

See also: “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids, A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 — 2008,” National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 2008. http://www.norml.org//index.cfm?Group_ID=7121

Friday, December 18, 2009

John Wilson: Not guilty on most serious marijuana charge

Somerville- The jury returned a not guilty verdict to John Wilson on the first-degree felony charges against him. But the MS patient could still face time in prison after being found guilty of second-degree charges of ‘Manufacturing’ marijuana and third-degree possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

If he had been convicted of “operating and maintaining a marijuana production facility” John would have faced a minimum of 15 years in state prison. That could have amounted to a death sentence for the 37 year old because of the degenerative nature of the disease. He had grown seventeen cannabis plants after researching online how to cultivate medical marijuana.

Wilson was allowed to remain with his family on bail until his sentencing hearing on February 5, 2010. At such time, supporters hope, The New Jersey Compassionate Use Act could be a law.


Stay tuned to the CMMNJ blog for updates and further information

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ALERT: Judge allows John Wilson to mention MS at trial

Somerville - It was honest and sincere; it was the truth. On the stand in his own defense, John Wilson was allowed to tell the jury that he has Multiple Sclerosis.

“I told them I was not a drug dealer and I was using the marijuana to treat my MS.” John had been asked what he said to the State Police officers who arrived to investigate the 17 cannabis plants spotted by helicopter.

It seems Wilson has been truthful with law enforcement authorities about his intentions regarding the medical use of his marijuana from their first contact with him.

NBC 4 in NY was in the courtroom and correctly called the single-sentence event a "Stunning Reversal at Medical Marijuana Trial."

Here’s how it happened. Because of the Judge’s earlier limitation rulings, Defense Attorney James Wronko and Deputy Attorney General Russ Curley took great care in their lines of questioning when the defendant took the stand. Wilson could not offer anything regarding medical marijuana; that he has Multiple Sclerosis or that cannabis can help treat MS. John's testimony today was grueling with numerous and lengthy sidebars.

Earlier in the day Detective Sergeant William Peacock, head of the NJ State Police Marijuana Eradication Unit, testified that during their search of John’s property he could not recall asking what John intended to do with the cannabis plants. Another State Trooper on the scene testified that he did not recall any conversations either.

Yet since John has been up-front with everyone about how marijuana helps with his Multiple Sclerosis, even the cops who showed up at his doorstep in 2008, he was allowed to say it to the jury as well.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update: John Wilson trial underway - support needed

Supporters are being asked to have a strong presence inside and outside the courtroom throughout the trial. Please contact Ken Wolski: ohamkrw (at) aol.com or Chris Goldstein: director (at) normlnj.org if you would like to help this effort.

Somerville, NJ- The trial is moving with unexpected speed for John Wilson, a New Jersey Multiple Sclerosis patient who was found to have with 17 cannabis plants outside his home last year. A jury was selected and the trial got underway today at 1:30PM at the Somerset County Courthouse.

The prosecutor and judge have zealously kept out any testimony regarding medical marijuana or even personal use, arguing the reason why the plants were grown is irrelevant.

The state Attorney General’s office has charged him with the first-degree felony of 'Operating a Drug Manufacturing Facility,' a statute originally created to go after cocaine dealers. The Superior Court Judge presiding over the trial has barred John and his defense attorney from mentioning to the jury that John even has MS.

Supporters held signs in front of the courthouse again today, the third public demonstration for John.

State Senators Nicholas Scutari and Raymond Lesniak have asked for NJ Governor Jon Corzine to grant a pardon. They are both co-sponsors of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and Senator Scutari is himself a municipal prosecutor in Lynden. Their statement requesting the pardon was strongly worded:

“It seems cruel and unusual to treat New Jersey’s sick and dying as if they were drug cartel kingpins. Moreover, it is a complete waste of taxpayer money having to house and treat an MS patient in a jail at the public’s expense,” said Senator Scutari, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset. “Specifically, in the case of John Ray Wilson, the State is taking a fiscally irresponsible hard-line approach against a man who’s simply seeking what little relief could be found from the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. Governor Corzine should step in immediately and end this perversion of criminal drug statutes in the Garden State.”

“Without compassion and a sense of moral right and wrong, laws are worth less than the paper they’re printed on,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “New Jersey’s tough criminal drug laws were never intended to be used against patients suffering from chronic and terminal medical conditions. The prosecutors and presiding judge have set up a scenario where Mr. Wilson is no different than a common street thug in the eyes of the law.” Read their release in full

Here are some related recent news articles about the trial


Breaking: Wilson's jury selected, marijuana trial begins 1:30PM

John Wilson just called from the Somerset County Courthouse. The jury selection was unexpectedly speedy. His trial will begin today at 1:30PM.

Supporters from CMMNJ and NORML-NJ plan to be in front of the courthouse today and throughout the trial. Please attend if you can. The location is 20 N. Bridge St. Somerville, NJ - MAP

Rally for John Wilson a success: Video

Somerville – Volunteers from CMMNJ and NORML-NJ demonstrated in front of the Somerset County Courthouse in support of MS patient John Wilson. Jury selection has begun in his trial where he faces 15-35 years for growing seventeen cannabis plants to treat his MS. Without healthcare it was something that brought him relief.

Although the rally was a success John continues to face an overzealous prosecution and a frightening potential sentence.

CMMNJ has rallied in support of John since his case emerged. When the judge in the trial barred John from ever telling the jury that he has MS the outrage was instant. Two state Senators have now asked for an Executive Pardon.

Thank you to all of the motivated CMMNJ volunteers who attended the rally! CMMNJ Board of Directors in attendance: Ken Wolski, Jim Miller, Ed Hannaman, Jim Bissell and Chris Goldstein. John’s trial is continuing, if you would like to participate in the daily presence at the courthouse, please contact us: ohamkrw@aol.com or media@cmmnj.org

Please send a letter to Governor Corzine and Attorney General Anne Milgram.

Below is video news from WPVI-TV Channel 6 in Philadelphia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) supports the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (S119/A804)

Letter from the NJSNA 12/9/09

The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) supports the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (S119/A804) and we urge the NJ General Assembly to pass this legislation.

A804 will protect patients who use marijuana with a physician’s... prescription under a program run by the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services. At the same time, this legislation contains, and continues, sufficient safeguards to protect the public against drug abuse. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 13 states and in the majority of these states teen marijuana use has declined, according to government studies. Medical marijuana has not led to broader legalization of drugs anywhere in the country in the 14 years medical marijuana programs have been in place.

In 2002, NJSNA adopted a resolution at its annual membership meeting that recognized the therapeutic value and safety of medically recommended marijuana. At that time, NJSNA urged the Governor and the State Legislature to move expeditiously to make medical marijuana legally available to New Jersey residents who could benefit from it.NJSNA has repeatedly testified in support of medical marijuana since the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was first introduced in 2005.NJSNA represents over 110,000 Registered Professional Nurses in the State.

In 2004, the American Nurses Association (ANA) adopted a Position Statement on “Providing Patients Safe Access to Marijuana/Cannabis.” The ANA supports the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate supervision of the prescriber and the education of registered nurses regarding current,
evidence based therapeutic use of marijuana/cannabis. The ANA represents 2.7 million RN's in the U.S.

NJSNA would appreciate your support for this important treatment for patients in need of it.

Should you wish to discuss this matter further, you may contact Dr. Barbara Wright, NJSNA Interim CEO {contact info}.


Barbara Goldberg-Chamberlain,

President- New Jersey State Nurses Association
The Voice for Nurses in New Jersey!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mary's Story

Below is Mary's story. Mary is in treatment for Ovarian Cancer in California and she wrote about how marijuana is helping her with her medical issues.

Mary was opposed to marijuana use until her own life was affected by it.

Currently, Mary is forbidden to vacation or visit friends in New Jersey, since the medicine she uses is illegal here.


Mary's Story

If someone viewed my life over the past year they’d most likely exclaim: “Wow- lots of intense medical challenges,” and that is true. But more importantly for me, it has been a year of both spiritual and emotional growth. Specifically dropping judgments and seeing the blessings in my life.

One judgment that I had was about marijuana users of any kind. I had always felt that people who smoked marijuana were kind of losers, “coping out.” And that the people using the system here in CA, were mostly junkies. Like they had some major character defect (that clearly I was without). And I’d have to say that the unknown made me fearful.

Then I had found myself having chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. My husband had suggested I try it after witnessing my nausea, even after a week where it was supposed to have passed. I’d also had trouble sleeping for months prior and did not want to take addictive pills. People ask: “Aren’t there medicines for nausea?” Well yes, however, medicines have major possible side effects and mine were also both exorbitantly expensive and hard to get on my health plan. We did not need any more stress. There was enough happening.

My judgment is gone completely now, for I am sleeping and eating and I cannot believe the difference it has made. It is so very important to sleep while on chemo- one’s body is working so hard to detox the metals- and rest is a vital part of recovery. And I have to say it has struck me glaringly how deeply rooted my judgment was in my need to be in control, fear of the unknown and being arrested (My Father was a policeman). These are things I need not worry about now. And we were so grateful that we did not have to go out on the street to get it. That brought much great relief to us both-- no fear of harmful extra substances or shenanigans.

Oh by the way- Both my Western MD and my Tibetan MD were champions of the cause. My Tibetan doc said: “We had marijuana farms in Tibet and were given the herb seed as children- it is good for your brain. It is only an herb. I do not understand the perception here- alcohol is so much more damaging to the liver and organs. Anything of course should be taken in moderation.” Smart men and very fortunate me. Thank you also wise and compassionate State of California. I wish this option for all states- no one should have to suffer unnecessarily. In fact marijuana has assisted beautifully in my recovery. I guess maybe it takes having a similar experience to be convinced?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

No Vote on NJ A804 Medical Marijuana in December

Alas, no Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or even Festivus for the Rest of Us for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey.

The last Assembly voting session of the year has been posted and the A804 Medical Marijuana Bill was not scheduled for the December 7th vote.

We believe the Assembly is still amending the bill, hopefully bringing it more in line with the less restrictive Senate version.

There are two Assembly voting opportunities left in this lame duck legislative session - January 7 and 11th, 2010. Senate sessions follow both, allowing the Senate to approve the changes in the bill over the version they passed early this year. Governor Corzine will still be able to sign it before his term ends.

Not that I'd try to pressure our Legislature about this missed opportunity or anything, but between December 7 and January 7 another 1200 New Jerseyans will die of cancer; 12,000 MS patients will still be denied an effective treatment; and innumerable others will continue to suffer another month. Just saying.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed for NJ Medical Marijuana patients!


New Jersey Medical Marijuana Legislation Update: Poised to Pass?

Senton Hall Law, by Kate Greenwood

Supporters are hopeful that before Governor-Elect Chris Christie takes office next month, the New Jersey legislature will pass — and current Governor Jon Corzine will sign — medical marijuana legislation. In February 2009, the “New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” which would allow patients suffering from “debilitating medical conditions” to treat their symptoms with marijuana without fear of state criminal reprisals, passed the state Senate.

In June 2009, Seton Hall Law’s Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy issued a position paper calling on the full legislature to pass the Act, arguing that it would “allow New Jersey residents with debilitating medical conditions access to marijuana to ease their suffering without creating an undue risk of abuse or diversion.”


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CMMNJ December 2009 Agenda

Monthly Public Meeting Agenda
Lawrence Township Library
Tuesday, December 8, 2009; 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

7:00 PM: Call meeting to order. Approve minutes. Discuss:

 NJ Assembly expected to vote on the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act on January 7 or 11, 2010. Amendments to the bill are expected to be worked on 12/7/09. Tell your legislators that you want the Senate version of the bill to pass into law. See CMMNJ’s recent blog for talking points—but tell your story in your own words. NJ State Nurses Assn. & others are supporting the bill. See: Courier Post column from 11/30.

 Support multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Wilson, who faces 20 years in prison for growing marijuana to treat his MS. Wilson was forbidden by the judge to even mention his medical condition during the upcoming trial, scheduled to start 12/14. Join the rally 12/14/09 at the Somerville Court House. State Senators urge Gov. Corzine to pardon him. Send your own e-mail to the governor. DOJ memo: Federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients to end. See News 4 New York story (11/30). See Wall Street Journal article from 12/1/09.

 The American Medical Association (AMA) voted 11/10 to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. GUSCIORA APPLAUDS AMA POLICY SHIFT ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA.

 CMMNJ’s only scheduled event in December: Mon., 12/14, 8:30 AM – 12 Noon John Wilson Rally at Somerset Co. Court House, Somerville, NJ to support John Wilson, followed by a fundraiser luncheon at the nearby East Star Buffet.

 CMMNJ recently appeared at: 11/7, Skidfest, U. of Delaware, Newark, DE; 11/8, Larry Kane's "Voice of Reason;" 11/16 – 19, League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City; 11/21, Medical Marijuana Info Seminar, Collingswood Public Library; 12/2, PA House of Reps. Medical Marijuana Hearing, Harrisburg, PA.

 See Ken’s Facebook page & Facebook Friends of CMMNJ!

 Treasury report: Current balances: Checking: $3846.01; PayPal: $695.51. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) organization, to fund public education about medical marijuana. Donations may be made securely through Paypal or checks made out to “CMMNJ” and sent to the address below. Get a free t-shirt for a donation above $15—specify size. Thank you for your support.

Scheduled meetings are Dec. 8, 2009 & Jan. 12, 2010. CMMNJ meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Lawrence Twp. Library from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM. All are welcome. Snacks are served. The library is at 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence Twp., Tel. #609.882.9246. (Meeting at the library does not imply their endorsement of our issue.) For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 394-2137 ohamkrw@aol.com

Somerville Rally & Fundraiser for NJ MS Patient

NJ MS Patient’s Trial Begins; Somerville Rally & Fundraiser Planned

WHO: CMMNJ and NORML NJ members will demonstrate support for NJ MS Patient John Wilson
WHAT: At a free, public rally followed by a fundraiser luncheon
WHEN: Monday, December 14, 2009 from 8:30 AM to 12:00 Noon; Luncheon at noon
WHERE: Somerset County Court House, 20 N. Bridge St., Somerville, New Jersey; Lunch at East Star Buffet
WHY: Wilson faces 20 years in prison for using marijuana to treat his MS; cannot tell jury he has MS

Members of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey and NORML NJ will hold a rally on the sidewalk in front of the Somerset County Court House, 20 North Bridge St., Somerville, NJ on Monday, December 14, 2009 from 8:30 AM to 12:00 noon in support of multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson. Jury selection is scheduled to begin at that time. Wilson faces 20 years in prison for growing 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson was told by Superior Court Judge Robert Reed during a pre-trial hearing that he may not let the jury know that he has MS, or that his use of marijuana was an attempt to treat his disease. This ruling effectively removes Wilson’s only defense for his actions. Wilson is self-employed, has no health insurance and faces mounting legal bills. A fundraiser luncheon will be held for him immediately following the rally at the nearby East Star Asian Buffet, 69 Main St., Somerville. Tickets are $20 apiece for the all-you-can-eat buffet with $10 of each ticket going to Wilson’s legal defense fund. See Ken Wolski, Jim Miller or Chris Goldstein to reserve a place at the buffet.

The National MS Society recently confirmed in an Expert Opinion Paper that standard therapies often provide inadequate relief for the symptoms of MS such as pain and spasticity, and that marijuana helps with these symptoms and could limit disease progression. “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,” said Ken Wolski, RN, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey. “We want to demonstrate our outrage that Wilson faces many years in prison for this, and that he cannot even explain to the jury why he was using marijuana,” Wolski said. “We also want to help defray some of his mounting legal expenses.”

The "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” which was approved by the New Jersey Senate, awaits a vote in the Assembly. This bill would allow patients to use a small amount of marijuana when a licensed physician recommends it for the symptoms of a number of medical conditions including multiple sclerosis. Governor Jon Corzine has said that he would sign the bill into law when it gets to his desk.

CMM-NJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about the benefits of safe and legal access to medical marijuana. For more info, contact:

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA,
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. www.cmmnj.org
219 Woodside Ave., Trenton, NJ 08618
609.394.2137 ohamkrw@aol.com