Supporters of MS sufferer hope marijuana prison term is commuted

SOMERVILLE – A multiple sclerosis sufferer who grew marijuana reported to prison today after exhausting legal appeals.

Supporters of John Ray Wilson, whose appeal was not heard by the state Supreme Court, said that Wilson turned himself in at the Somerset County Courthouse on a five-year prison term.

Wilson’s supporters are hoping that Gov. Chris Christie will intervene on humanitarian grounds and commute the sentence.

“We have no other avenue at this point,’’ said Chris Goldstein, one of Wilson’s backers. “The only thing that will prevent him from serving his sentence is a pardon.’’

Goldstein said such a request initially was made during the Corzine administration, and it was not acted on. He said they have not heard anything from the Christie administration.

Wilson was convicted of growing 17 cannabis plants shortly before New Jersey passed its medical marijuana law in 2010.

The state’s medical marijuana program has not had a smooth beginning. In particular, programs have been road-blocked by local zoning and planning opposition.

“Let’s say medical marijuana got going,’’ Goldstein said. “He would not be able to use it in prison. There is specific language about that.’’

Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, also weighed in this week with support for Wilson’s case.

“Mr. Wilson was not selling drugs on our streets,” Lesniak said in a release. “He was merely trying to alleviate the symptoms of a dreadfully painful and regressive disease.”

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey has been holding demonstrations in support of Wilson. The group plans to continue holding events for Wilson while he is in prison, Goldstein said.

Supporters of MS sufferer hope marijuana prison term is commuted