Friday, June 1, 2012
MS Patient John Wilson Released to ISP
New Jersey multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson was released from a New Jersey Department of Corrections minimum security facility yesterday to the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP). Wilson served over four months of his 5-year prison sentence at the DOC. Wilson will spend approximately 16 months in the ISP, if he is successful in the program. According to the manager of the program, ISP officers devote approximately 80% or their time to direct field supervision, involving themselves in almost every aspect of the participants’ lives. Wilson was careful to explain that a provision of his release is that he not speak publicly about medical marijuana during his time under the ISP. He is not available for media interviews at this time.
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, but granted bail pending appeal.
On July 26, 2011, an Appellate Court affirmed the conviction and sentencing. The state Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal on January 20, 2012 and Wilson was taken into custody seven days later. State legislators and many supporters called for a pardon for Wilson. However, Governor Christie refused to pardon Wilson, and even called into question the legitimacy of his MS diagnosis. Prison medical staff meanwhile treated Wilson promptly and appropriately for his MS.
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.
Ken Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director