NJ Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Patient Denied Medical Defense
June 28, 2009
New Jersey multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson, 36, was told by Superior Court Judge Robert Reed during a pre-trial hearing in Somerville, NJ 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.
Wilson faces 20 years in prison for growing a few marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson was arrested on August 18, 2008 after the New Jersey State Police Marijuana Eradication Squad found his garden.
Wilson was charged with “manufacturing” marijuana, despite his diagnosis of MS, despite a statement in support of medical marijuana by the National MS Society, and despite pending legislation that would protect MS patients who use medical marijuana in New Jersey.
MS expert Dr. Denis Petro submitted testimony on Wilson’s behalf, but the judge refused to admit that testimony into trial. The prosecuting attorney asked, “If you robbed a bank and had MS, would you expect special treatment for that?” Wilson plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
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 and could limit disease progression.
“To know that an inexpensive herb like marijuana is able not only to relieve the immediate suffering of MS—the pain and spasticity—but also to actually arrest the progression of this incurable disease is a compelling reason to use it therapeutically. It is an outrage that Wilson faces many years in prison for this, and that he cannot even explain to the jury why he was using marijuana,” said Ken Wolski, RN, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey (CMMNJ).
An estimated 15% of people with the disease use marijuana for symptom relief, according to the MS Society.
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:
Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. http://www.cmmnj.org/