Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breaking: Wilson released, NJ Senators call for medical marijuana clemency

Breaking: Wilson released, NJ Senators call for medical marijuana clemency

4/29/2010 by Chris Goldstein - John Wilson was released from the Southern State Correctional Facility in New Jersey today to his grateful family at about 1:45PM. Wilson was sentenced to 5 years in prison on March 19, 2010 for growing seventeen cannabis plants to treat MS. An Appellate Court ruled on Monday that he should be granted bail as his case is appealed.

On Tuesday Judge Robert B. Reed, the trial judge in the case, set bail at $15,000. Ken Wolski, Executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) was in the courtroom.

The prosecutor {NJ Office of the Attorney General], Cassandra Serentino, asked for $75,000 to $150,000 bail. When asked why by the judge, the prosecutor said that was what was listed for such an offense on the bail schedule, but that she would defer to the judge for “whatever you deem appropriate.”

The judge cited the fact that John had no prior criminal record, was gainfully self-employed, had a family who was at the trial every day, and had many responsible members of the community vouch for him “in the cause which he has come to represent.” READ KEN's BLOG POST IN FULL

New Jersey passed a medical marijuana law in January, although the program will not be fully implemented until this fall. Multiple Sclerosis or MS is one of the qualifying conditions under the new law.

State Senators Raymond Lesniak and Nicholas Scutari issued a press release yesterday renewing their call for Governor Chris Christie to grant Wilson a pardon.

“The court recognized the cruelty of incarcerating an MS sufferer under these circumstances. We think Governor Christie should likewise recognize this injustice and pardon Mr. Wilson from the most serious charges,” said Senator Lesniak. “We believe that such an egregious injustice demands prompt action. Through the power of clemency invested in this State’s Chief Executive, Governor Christie can overturn an unjust and overly cruel sentence for a man simply seeking a small measure of relief from chronic pain and illness.”

“We remain hopeful that Governor Christie will see the light and order a more appropriate sentence for John Ray Wilson through a gubernatorial pardon,” said Senator Scutari. “Given our State’s budgetary woes, it does not make sense to incarcerate a non-violent offender for the personal use of medical marijuana, especially when the Legislature and the previous Governor have since legalized the medical use of the drug. Governor Christie should recognize the will of the Legislature, and of the public, and step in to overturn a prison sentence for a very sick man who felt he had nowhere else to turn for relief from his symptoms.” READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE

Before being incarcerated Wilson was living with his elderly grandmother, helping to care for her and his wheelchair-bound younger brother.

We spoke with Wilson's mother and father today. The family is planning a barbecue for the homecoming.

"We're just happy that he's out," said his mom.

More about medical marijuana in New Jersey at