Drug Policy

N.J. Medical Marijuana Patient Acquitted of Most Serious Charge

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John Ray Wilson, the New Jersey man who was caught growing marijuana that he used to treat his multiple sclerosis, was convicted yesterday of cultivating cannabis and possessing psilocybin mushrooms but acquitted of the most serious charge against him: operating a marijuana production facility, an offense that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Before the trial, the judge ruled that Wilson could not tell the jury why he was growing marijuana, since New Jersey does not permit medical use of the plant (although it is on the verge of enacting a law that would). But during the trial Wilson was allowed to mention, with no follow-up or elaboration, that he told the state police detectives who arrested him "I was not a drug dealer and I was using the marijuana for my M.S." The judge allowed the testimony to rebut the detectives' claim that they never asked Wilson why he was growing the 17 plants they found. A juror told The Star-Ledger that "Wilson's condition played no role in jury deliberations" but added that the dispute about what happened during the arrest hurt the detectives' credibility. Although a 20-year sentence is no longer possible, Wilson still could go to prison for five to 10 years. His lawyer plans to ask for probation when Wilson is sentenced on February 5. Gov. Jon Corzine, who has said he will sign New Jersey's pending medical marijuana law, indicated that he was waiting for the outcome of the trial before considering the case for clemency.

I noted Wilson's case last week.

[via the Drug War Chronicle]

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  1. Gov. Jon Corzine, who has said he will sign New Jersey’s pending medical marijuana law, indicated that he was waiting for the outcome of the trial before considering the case for clemency.

    Wow. That is really good news. If he’s not lying.

    1. Can Corzine do anything before Wilson is sentenced on Feb 25th? A new govenor will be seated.

      1. If Corzine is sincere, he could pardon all medical marijuana users right now, convicted or not.

        =jcr

  2. he still faces 5-10 years for the other charges. if corzine pardon’s him, i’ll stop wishing for space debris to fall on his head.

    1. I figured, from the way the article is worded, that if he got prison time, Corzine would grant clemency. If he got probation, he wouldn’t bother. IOW, Wilson wouldn’t do time in any event.

      1. An ex-gov can’t grant anyone clemency, and I would think that before you can grant clemency, you have to know what the sentence is, which will be after Corzine.

        For Wilson’s sake, I hope I’m wrong.

  3. the dispute about what happened during the arrest hurt the detectives’ credibility

    Not enough to not convict him of something based on it, though.

    Stacked charges always work.

  4. It seems that the more inoffensive and harmless somebody is, the more frantically the State goes after them.

    1. Of course they do. If the people see that someone the state’s trying to fuck over doesn’t actually deserve it, they’ll lose their faith in the state! And that would be awful! Why, some of the tax suckers might even encounter resistance to their next pay raise!

      -jcr

  5. Here’s hoping the Corzine grants clemency, regardless of the new law.

    At least, he can go out on a positive note.

  6. @nipplemancer – love the allusion to Tom Smith’s filk song here.

    (That’s “Falling Down on New Jersey,” BTW)

    1. that’s Mitchell Burnside-Clapp, and it was an unintentional reference as I generically wish that things fall on politicians’ heads from space.

  7. Wilson could not tell the jury why he was growing marijuana, since New Jersey does not permit medical use of the plant…

    I don’t understand this at all, and it seems to come up in these kinds of cases all the time. Murder is obviously illegal, but even accused murderers are allowed to say why they killed someone (aren’t they?). I don’t see why it should matter whether or not the plant is illegal when determining what the defendant is allowed to say on the stand.

    1. The idea is that Wilson would argue medical necessity. The judge ruled that since New Jersey doesn’t recognize marijuana as a medicine, by definition it couldn’t be a medical necessity.

      As your intuition tells you, though, that’s completely stupid. The question of necessity is not a question of law but of fact. The question isn’t “Is marijuana considered a medicine by New Jersey?”, it’s “Is marijuana a medicine for the person making the defense?” Wilson should have been allowed to make his necessity defense.

      Like I said in the earlier thread, he has grounds for appeal, if he doesn’t die in the interim.

    2. It’s part of that “I swear to tell the truth, the whole government aapproved truth, and nothing but the truth” thing.

      1. Interesting.. I wonder what happens if the defendant, upon being sworn in, says “the judge will not permit me to tell the whole truth.”

        -jcr

  8. But is that your question, or how NJ law actually reads?

  9. the judge ruled that Wilson could not tell the jury why he was growing marijuana,

    If I were the defendant, I’d tell the jury exactly why I was growing it, and the the fucking judge keep declaring mistrials till his gavel fell apart.

    -jcr

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