Early Monday morning, the Kansas Legislature ended their session after meeting for only 78 of the 90 scheduled days. They did take a small step forward by passing a bill that reduces the penalties for marijuana possession. A first offense would be punishable by a maximum of six months, instead of one year, in jail and a second offense would no longer be a felony. The bill now heads to Gov. Brownback’s desk, and will become law if he does not veto it within 10 days.
Unfortunately, the legislature did not pass any type of protections for medical marijuana patients, although it considered several bills to do so. The House did pass a bill, sponsored by Rep. John Wilson, which would have allowed patients to use low-THC medical cannabis and provided for in-state access. Although those provisions did not pass the Senate, it is significant because this is the first time any type of medical marijuana bill was passed by either chamber of the Kansas Legislature.
If you are a Kansas resident, please ask your legislators to consider a comprehensive medical marijuana bill next year.
The multiple sclerosis patient in New Jersey who was sentenced to five years in prison for growing marijuana plants and has been incarcerated since March may be released today while he appeals his case.
A state appellate court ruled yesterday that John Wilson, who says he used marijuana to treat his condition, should be released on bail.
“Family and supporters were optimistic, but pointed out that John spent three weeks in the Somerset County Jail, then a week in a Trenton [transfer] facility and had just been moved to a state prison complex in southern New Jersey. Some were growing concerned over his health.”
Two state senators have asked New Jersey’s governor to pardon Wilson, in part because the state passed a medical marijuana law during the course of his trial.
John Wilson has maintained that he grew marijuana for personal use only to treat his illness. Throughout most of his trial, a judge prevented Wilson from mentioning his condition, even after New Jersey became the 14th state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law. On Friday, that same judge—State Superior Court Judge Robert Reed—ruled that Wilson cannot go free on bail until his appeal is decided.
Two state senators are asking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to pardon Wilson, calling the decision to bring charges against the 37-year-old “cruel, unusual and unnecessary.”
New Jersey resident John Wilson, 37, may spend the next five years in prison because he grew marijuana, which he used to treat his multiple sclerosis. A judge handed down the five-year sentence on Friday, months after a jury found Wilson guilty of growing 17 marijuana plants—which he used only to treat the effects of his debilitating illness.
Throughout most of his trial, Wilson was prevented from mentioning his disease to the jury. Then in January, New Jersey became the 14th state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law, but Wilson was still not allowed to argue a medical defense, because the law did not exist at the time of his arrest. New Jersey’s law does not allow patients to grow their own marijuana (as Wilson had done) but it will provide them with safe access to their medicine through dispensaries—which would have eliminated the need for Wilson to grow his own plants, if only the law had been passed two years earlier.
There is a chance that Wilson might receive parole and be out of prison in about a year, if he is accepted into the state’s Intensive Supervision Program, but that has not yet been decided.
In the meantime, his attorney, James Wronko, is promising to appeal.
“I continue to be amazed that in our system of justice, an individual who is growing marijuana to treat his personal multiple sclerosis ends up in state prison,” Wronko told a local news outlet. “I find it extremely ironic that an individual who could not afford medicine and had to resort to growing marijuana is now going to state prison where he will be given access to all the drugs available to treat multiple sclerosis.”
Last night, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed a medical marijuana bill into law, officially making New Jersey the 14th state in the nation to allow qualified patients to use medical marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation. The law allows the establishment of dispensaries around the state, but it does not make it legal for patients to grow their own marijuana.
This law means that New Jersey will no longer prosecute sick and dying patients who try to ease their symptoms with marijuana, but it apparently does not apply retroactively. On the same day Gov. Corzine signed such compassionate legislation, he also refused to pardon one of the most glaring victims of New Jersey’s old marijuana laws—John Wilson, a 37-year-old multiple sclerosis patient who faces 10 years in prison for growing marijuana plants to ease his condition.
When asked for comment, Wilson’s lawyer said he was “deeply disappointed” that the governor did not grant Wilson clemency before leaving office.