Cancer Patient Who Bought Marijuana To Self-Medicate Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

Thomas J. Franzen is going to prison for ordering too much medicine.


A cancer patient from Montgomery, Illinois, has been sentenced to four years in prison for ordering a 42-pound package of chocolate marijuana edibles to self-medicate. The day after he pleaded guilty, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

Thomas J. Franzen says he ordered 430 marijuana-infused chocolate bars from a California dispensary in 2014 in order to abate some of his symptoms, such as nausea. He pleaded guilty on May 30 to possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis, which carries a prison term of four to 14 years.

Prosecutors dropped the more serious charge of trafficking more than 5,000 grams of cannabis, which could have put Franzen behind bars for up to 60 years. When police officers searched Franzen's home, they also allegedly found cocaine, as well as various drug paraphernalia, such as a digital scale and packaging materials.

"Evidence from state and federal investigators shows that he has purchased and sold marijuana products across North America," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said in a statement. "In addition to the evidence found in his home, we also have evidence that he had received multiple packages that raised the suspicion of postal inspectors prior to his receiving the package that led to his arrest." Since the case was resolved through a plea deal rather than a trial, none of this evidence was adjudicated in court.

David Camic, Franzen's attorney, praised the judge who presided over the case. "The judge was cognizant of his health and wanted to give him a break, but ultimately 40 pounds of cannabis is a large amount," he tells the Chicago Tribune.

But it is difficult to view this outcome as either compassionate or just, considering that Franzen caused no obvious harm to another human being. He has a debilitating disease that very well might kill him—his cancer is stage 4—and he's going to prison for ordering too much medicine. Four years is better than 60, but the appropriate amount of prison time for this is none.

Franzen will return to court on June 14, at which time Judge Clint Hull will review medical test results to determine when Franzen should begin his sentence. "He's going through necessary medical treatment and hopefully he's in a period of remission," Camic tells the Tribune. "The judge was very kind to delay the sentencing because he will not receive the same level of care in prison that he's receiving now."

* This story has been updated to include additional information from the state's attorney.

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  1. 430 bars? Seems kind of likely that he wanted to sell some on the side to offset his costs.
    Which of course also shouldn’t be a crime.

    1. True. Or it could be “I’m gonna buy a shitload this one time. If I get away with it, then I don’t have to constantly worry about getting a shipment into my state every week or so.”

      1. That was my thought, too.

        I can’t speak to cannabis-loaded chocolate but I do have a bit of a sweet tooth and 430 bars of regular chocolate sounds like about a year’s supply to me. If you have the storage space, why not buy in bulk?

        1. Goddamn I’m hungry after reading all this.

          1. What a stupid story. Clickbait bullshit.

            1. Yep.

  2. “The judge was cognizant of his health and wanted to give him a break, but ultimately 40 pounds of cannabis is a large amount,”

    Except that it wasn’t 40 pounds of cannabis, it was 40 pounds of chocolate. But that’s how they get you – if he had used the 40 pounds of chocolate to make 500 pounds of chocolate chip cookies, he would have been charged with trafficking 500 pounds of cannabis.

    1. ^^ This. Its like when you get busted for acid. They charge you based on the weight of paper its put on.

      1. I was thinking of a case a few years back where a guy was busted for heroin where the amount was just over the amount that triggers a higher charge and a much worse penalty and he tried (unsuccessfully) arguing that since the heroin wasn’t 100% pure the actual amount of heroin he possessed was far lower than the amount he was charged with. The prosecutor argued that adulterated heroin made the whole batch heroin, which made me wonder if the cops busted a junkie with heroin in his bloodstream, couldn’t they charge the junkie with possessing 150 pounds or so of heroin? Or if it’s sealed inside a secret compartment of a smuggler’s automobile, do they weigh the automobile as well?

        1. In Texas if you hide a fistful of seeds under a pile of raked leaves they’ll confiscate your home and send you straight to prison–mebbe even seek a death sentence if the leaves are moist enough to weigh anything.

          1. Cool story bro.

          2. In Texas he would have been charged with possession of 42 lbs of marijuana. Since you cannot separate the marijuana from the chocolate they charge you with weight of entire item

    2. This. Maybe adding the weight of packaging and shipping materials could push the crime over a new threshold.

      1. But I see JoeJoe beat me to it.

    3. They charged him with that so that he would have little choice but to agree to a plea. I can’t imagine finding a group of 12 people to sit on a jury who are unanimously as huge a gaping asshole of society as the prosecutors apparently are.

  3. So, how would this case have turned out under the new laws?

    1. Cannabis should be no more regulated and taxed than tomatoes.

      The new laws are to protect the “legal” cartel and keep police busy enforcing the new cartel arrangements.

  4. Its almost like he tried to mitigate his risk in one batch. Crazy that anyone would do that against onerous laws, or at least that is what passes as law enforcement logic.

    My guess is they thought he wouldn’t likely appeal because he would either be dead or poor. But pleasing guilty in that timeframe also says he had shitty council.

  5. I’ve said it before. There is no class of people who are on a whole bigger scumbags than prosecutors. The worst people on earth even edging out congresscritters.

    1. +1,000,000!!!!!

    2. Clearly. Worse, the unequal application of the law is what ferments cynicism in the system.

      Just look at Harris’s record as she tries to run from it like a coward.

      She was a bullying prosector beating up the commoners. She wouldn’t go after the big fish. Say Smollet or Hillary.

      Just my impression.

  6. A cancer patient from Montgomery, Illinois, has been sentenced to four years in prison for ordering a 42-pound package of chocolate marijuana edibles to self-medicate. The day after he pleaded guilty, the state legalized recreational marijuana.

    Does anyone know the details of the Illinois legalization bill? Are there any restrictions that would have made his 42lbs of marijuana edibles still illegal?

    1. The law only allows you to possess a total 500mg of THC in infused products at any one time, which would only be about 5 bars

      1. Journalism.

  7. “The judge was cognizant of his health and wanted to give him a break”

    “The judge was very kind to delay the sentencing”

    Please, sir, may I have some more?

    1. No use burning that bridge until his client is shoved off it.

      1. Yeah, criticize the judge and His Honor might take it out on the client.

        If the client’s interests require that you flatter the judge and say his farts smell like roses, so be it – while reserving the option of saying, on appeal, that his rulings were totally wrong.

    2. There was a time when the Chicago Tribune would’ve stood up for individual rights and pled for hizonner to be replaced, if necessary by lighting the blighters’ gown. Nowadays we’ll be lucky if they don’t editorialize for Billy to be held in contempt of kangaroo court.

  8. Wait, what?
    The judge is waiting to be sure he will live long enough to serve his four years?

  9. The drug warriors chasing doobies today are the same type of low-quality people who, a few generations ago, investigated, prosecuted, and incarcerated the dangerous class of public menace we now call beer distributors.

    Soon enough, most Americans will wonder who was dumb and mean enough to be bothered by doobies, cocaine, whippets, and mushrooms.

    1. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a “low-quality” individual. What a high-quality opinion to hold.

    2. Funny, everyone involved in this story is a democrat. Your precious elites.

      Subnormal idiot.

    3. That would be… the heirs of judeo-Christian ethics, socially engineering in favor of poverty and charity, and against drunkenness and dancing.

  10. “Cancer Patient Who Bought Marijuana To Self-Medicate Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison”

    This is why I’ve come to despise Reason.

    The fact is that what he bought 42 pounds of pot edibles for was the point under contention. He likely was using some for himself. The State maintained what he was also trafficking it.

    Libertarians wouldn’t want him prosecuted regardless. But Reason goes postmodernist, and lies and lies to support The Narrative even when it isn’t required to make the point.

    It’s just who they are now. Correspondence to reality is entirely beside the point. It’s All the News That Fits The Narrative.

    1. He was a bit dumb to do that but the law is dumber and the prosector a predator padding his resume.

      1. It’s not stupidity, it’s intellectual corruption.

  11. It’s long past time to be polite to anyone who supports the War on Drugs. To hell with those fucking slavers.


    1. I’ve come to the same conclusion. I I consider anyone in prison on drug charges a political prisoner. The US has more political prisoners than any other countries total prison population.

  12. So no one can tell a women what she can do with her body even if it has a measurable life form within it but you let someone try to put something in their own body that government doesn’t like and you best be ready to die for your evil crime to society. Kill an unborn child? Yeah sure why not but don’t you dare think about consuming any questionable substance.

    Not taking sides on abortion, women rights or drugs just making fun of the hypocrisy of the 2 opposing potions. Unless you’ve been directly impacted by drug related violence how can anyone who supports abortions rights be for the war on drugs?

    1. Because vagina.

    2. This mystifies me as well – “my body, my decision” seems to apply without a doubt to drug use decisions if it applies to late term abortions.

      Just as I am perplexed by “pro-lifers” who are willing to make exceptions to abortion bans for cases of incest or rape. If a clump of cells is a human life, isn’t that true regardless of how it came about?

      Personally, I’m pro-choice w/o limitations for both at least the first trimester of pregnancy and for ingestion of whatever substances one wants to ingest. I might, however, legally limit some drug use while pregnant as the brunt of such use can be borne by the child for 85 years and it wasn’t the child’s decision to ingest the drugs.

  13. This is a minor part of the story, but is possessing a digital scale a crime?

    I have the Cook’s Illustrated–recommended scale for cooking things. Mostly.

    1. And packaging materials. How many zip-locks are required to count as “drug paraphernalia”?

  14. Leaving aside the issue of whether American drug laws themselves are just, Binion’s argument hinged on the defendant’s cancer instead. Not good enough. Having a terminal illness doesn’t exempt a citizen from prosecution or punishment: In most states, ill or elderly convicts, especially those lacking middle-class status, money and good lawyers, simply face the fact that they will die in prison.

    Binion tells us that 40 pounds along with scales for weighing it out were discovered in the search. If true, then it’s not a case of possession for therapy by a medical marijuana patient who should have no trouble getting resupplied as needed. Looks like he was dealing. Even if doing so to generate income for high medical bills, I have difficulty finding sympathy for him. Use of cannabis in any of the legalization states entails responsibility to know and adhere to that state’s laws on the subject.

    1. If you were struck by lightning I would have difficulty finding sympathy only because people like you are the reason others suffer so needlessly.

    2. So you think a person using marijuana edibles medicinally isn’t going to want to weigh it to get the dosage right?

      And of course, your argument about a medical marijuana patient having “no trouble getting resupplied as needed” would only be applicable in a state in which medical marijuana is legal, which Illinois isn’t.

      Looks like you don’t have a valid case for why you think he was dealing.

  15. Anyone going to jail for cannabis is wrong under any circumstance. It’s time to end the drug war now.

  16. Maybe he was using the scale to weigh the chocolate bars, to get a precise dose.

    Possession of a scale, and sandwich bags SHOULD NOT necessarily imply intent to distribute.

  17. Ironically, he’ll get his cancer treatment paid for in prison.

  18. Drugs should be legal, but we should consider the possibility that he was a coke dealer, and prosecutors simply nabbed him on the easier charge.

    1. So you want to punish him for a crime the prosecutors did not prove? Where did you learn civics, North Korea?

  19. Confiscate and go after the California dispensary that sent it. This guy has stage 4 cancer. Let him have what ever time he has left at home.

  20. […] * This one too: A cancer patient from Montgomery, Illinois, has been sentenced to four years in prison for ordering a 42-pound package of chocolate marijuana edibles to self-medicate. The day after he pleaded guilty, the state legalized recreational marijuana. […]

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