NJ: Rally for MS Medical Marijuana Patient Who Faces Prison Friday

March 10, 2010 – The sentencing phase in the high-profile trial of a New Jersey man who grew medical marijuana to treat his Multiple Sclerosis will take place this Friday 3/19/10 after several delays.

John Ray Wilson was caught by a NJ National Guard helicopter in August 2008 growing 17 cannabis plants used to treat his MS. Wilson then endured a nightmarish prosecution on first-degree felony charges that are usually reserved for kingpin crack dealers.

Citing the medical marijuana bill then before the New Jersey legislature, the prosecutor and Judge had tried to keep any mention of John’s MS from the jury.

Ultimately the truth was allowed out during the trial – NJ: Judge allows John Wilson to mention MS at marijuana trial

Two NJ state senators had even taken an unprecedented step of appealing to the Governor’s Office for an Executive Pardon on the first-degree charges of ‘operating and maintaining a CDS manufacturing facility.’

But the jury ultimately acquitted John on those charges. MS patient: Not guilty on most serious marijuana charge

Wilson was however convicted of the second-degree felony of ‘manufacturing’ marijuana and a third-degree felony for possessing a very small amount of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Thus, he is still facing time in prison.

Now that the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is a law, Wilson’s family hope the state’s recognition of the therapeutic use of cannabis will allow some leniency. John’s attorney, James Wronko, said today that the NJ Attorney General’s Office has continued their request for a seven-year sentence in state prison for John.

“It is stressful,” Wilson said during a phone call after the last sentencing delay in February. He has been preparing for any possible outcome, even finding a temporary home for his cat.

Supporters have gathered in front of the courthouse throughout the trial and are expecting good attendance for the rally this Friday starting at 8:30AM.

Ed Hannaman, on the Board of Directors at the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ) wrote a powerful letter to the Judge:

By growing his own medication, John did not engage in the drug trade and he did not seek to profit in any way- only to ease his suffering. There is no reason a humane civilized society should exact retributive punishment for John’s act of self-preservation. Notably, the law accepts justification as a defense for seriously inflicting harm on another-even killing them if necessary to protect one’s own life or that of another. How can a system that excuses the killing of another justify imprisoning a person for saving his own life while harming no other?

John is now eligible to become a legally recognized medical marijuana patient. He does not deserve to be sentenced to imprisonment as a drug manufacturer. Basic justice demands that John not be martyred to a law already recognized as inapplicable to him. In this case, the only just response is probation. READ IN FULL at the CMMNJ blog

Television, newspaper and radio news outlets in NJ, PA and NY have followed the case closely.

Passed on January 11, 2010 and signed on 1/19,  New Jersey’s medical marijuana law allows only a very limited set of medical conditions for the cannabis program. MS is a qualifying condition.

Wilson has been free on bail, living with his family. If Judge Robert Reed passes a sentence that includes jail or prison John will be taken immediately into custody in the courtroom on Friday.

Somerset County Courthouse rally info:

8:30AM-appx 2PM at 20 N. Bridge St, Somerville, NJ 08876

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