NJ Supreme Court Agrees: MS Patient Must Spend 5 Years in State Prison
WHO: New Jersey Supreme Court
WHAT: Refused to hear the appeal of MS patient John Ray Wilson who was denied a medical defense for his use of marijuana
WHEN: January 20, 2012
WHERE: Trenton, NJ
WHY: The Supreme Court agrees there is no “personal use” exemption for the charge of "manufacturing" marijuana
New Jersey multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson is preparing to resume his 5-year prison sentence after the state Supreme Court denied certification, refusing to hear his appeal, on January 20, 2012, according to his lawyer, William Buckman. Buckman called the Appellate Court decision that the Supreme Court let stand, “wrongheaded and a vicious travesty.”
Wilson was arrested on August 18, 2008 and was charged with “manufacturing” 17 marijuana plants that he used to treat his MS. Wilson faced 20 years in state prison for this crime. At trial, Superior Court Judge Robert Reed would not let the jury hear the reason that Wilson grew the marijuana plants, essentially removing Wilson’s only defense. Many members of the community felt this was an injustice and protested outside the court house in Somerville. In December 2009 Wilson was acquitted of the most serious charge, but he was convicted of a second degree charge of manufacturing marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison on March 19, 2010.
On July 26, 2011, an Appellate Court affirmed the conviction and sentencing. The Appellate Court agreed with the trial judge that there was no “personal use” exemption to the charge of manufacturing over ten marijuana plants. It did not matter that Wilson was using the marijuana to treat his MS, the Appellate Court ruled. They agreed that five years in prison for this crime was an appropriate sentence.
Governor Chris Christie has so far ignored appeals from State Senators Scutari and Lesniak for a pardon for Wilson. Ken Wolski, RN, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey (CMMNJ) said, “This is further proof that there is no justice for medical marijuana patients in New Jersey.”
The National MS Society 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. An estimated 15% of people with the disease use marijuana for symptom relief, according to the MS Society. MS is a qualifying condition for marijuana therapy in New Jersey according to the two-year-old Compassionate Use Act, but the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program is not operational yet.
CMMNJ, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is a non-profit educational organization.
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
Coalition members hold diverse opinions, but we all agree:
Arresting patients is wrong, and it must stop now.
Modern clinical research, centuries of experience and the impassioned personal accounts of thousands of real patients concur: Marijuana can alleviate symptoms of certain serious medical conditions, and it can do so when other drugs fail to help.
Doctors should be free to recommend this medicine to promote health, and sick or injured New Jerseyans should be free to use it responsibly.
The safety margin for therapeutic marijuana is as wide as it can be ─there is no known lethal dose.
New Jersey healthcare professionals dispense potentially lethal drugs every day. We trust them to do so very carefully, and solely to benefit their patients. Common sense and compassion demand that doctors should control non-lethal marijuana medicine for those who truly need it. To make this important change a reality, your voice is needed.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was introduced in the State Senate in January 2005 by Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden). A companion bill is pending in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton) and Assemblyman Michael Carroll (R-Morris Township).