Thursday, April 29, 2010

NJ man with MS sentenced to five years in prison for medical marijuana growing has sentence stayed


A New Jersey Appellate Court ruling handed down on April 26 may free a Franklin Township man sentenced to five years in prison for growing marijuana plants to treat his Multiple Sclerosis.

John Wilson's attorney James Wronko confirmed the ruling saying, "They have stayed the sentence."

The court ruled that Wilson, 37, should be granted bail and released to his family if he can meet the court's requirements for release.

While his family is hopeful, they have grave concerns as to Wilson's declining health. Wilson spent three weeks in the Somerset County Jail after his February conviction, then a week in a Trenton transfer facility and had just been moved to a state prison complex in southern New Jersey when the appellate court finding came down.

Wilson's troubles began after a New Jersey National Guard helicopter pilot spotted 17 marijuana plants growing behind his home. He was arrested and charged with manufacturing drugs, a felony, manufacturing marijuana in the second- and possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the third degree. He was found not guilty of the felony charge, which could have sent Wilson to prison for fifteen years.

During trial, Wronko was not allowed to mention to his client's jury that Wilson suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and was not allowed to introduce testimony as to the medical benefits cannabis afforded his client. It all but sealed the man's judicial fate.

Wilson's case attracted extensive media attention and support from the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey as well as State Senators Raymond Lesniak and Nicholas Scutari who have petitioned the Governor to grant Wilson an Executive pardon.