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Releaf Magazine, February 2012
New Jersey has had phantom medical marijuana program since its signing into law in 2010. The current laws there do very little to protect patient’s rights to medicate, does not allow for dispensaries, and does not give grow rights to ANYONE. Since taking office, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his administration have dragged their feet instead of helping to provide compassion to patients. Federal interference, local zoning, cutting up the pie have all been used as reasons as to why the program won’t take off the ground. The medical cannabis programs are meant to help the greater good of the community, however we cannot let individuals fall through the cracks and suffer alone. The bigger tragedy in New Jersey; more so than the mass suffering of waiting patients is the cowardly mistreatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) patient John Ray Wilson. It would be unfair to blame the Governor for the entire situation surrounding John, however the buck stops with the Governor on this one, and he should be ashamed of himself. “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 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,” Atlantic Highlands Herald reports. Most recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in January, and now Wilson will spend five years in jail. There are many fingers of blame that can be pointed in this case. First let’s remember that John Wilson did commit a crime, as the NJMMP was not established when he was growing cannabis. We can also blame the system that does not allow for an affirmative defense, or we can blame the jury for not nullifying the case. Whoever is wrong, the fact remains that a medical marijuana patient, suffering from MS will spend five years needlessly suffering in jail for growing medical marijuana. Governor Christie could very easily commute the sentence, or pardon the crime given the circumstances; however he has ignored State Senators Scutari and Lesniak that have asked 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.” History always repeats, and if this awful situation does not have any intervention, it is a grim future that lies ahead for potential medical marijuana patients in New Jersey.