16 Feb: Lesniak-Scutari Resolution Urging Clemency For MS Sufferer Convicted On Marijuana Charges Advances

TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Nicholas P. Scutari which would urge Governor Christie to exercise executive clemency to commute the five-year prison sentence for John Ray Wilson, a multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer who was convicted of marijuana manufacturing in an attempt to self-medicate for his disease was approved today by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8-1 with two abstentions.

“It rises to the level of ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment to imprison a man who was only seeking some small measure of relief for his debilitating disease,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union, and a member of the Judiciary Committee. “In the case of John Ray Wilson, the court system is seeking to make an example of a man suffering from multiple sclerosis, who was seeking to self-medicate because he could not afford the high cost of prescription drugs. Rather than treat this man with the leniency and decency that basic fairness and human compassion would warrant, the courts decided to throw the book at him, and now it’s up to Governor Christie to correct this injustice.”

“Whether you agree or disagree with the provisions of the medical marijuana law, the particulars in the John Ray Wilson case are so extreme that you have to wonder what purpose is served by locking away a man suffering from multiple sclerosis for five years,” said Senator Scutari, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset, and the Chair of the Judiciary Committee. “I would think that it would make more sense – given that medical marijuana is now legal in New Jersey – to commute John Ray Wilson’s sentence, and get him access to the medications and health coverage he needs to control his symptoms. Instead, we’re wasting taxpayer dollars to incarcerate a nonviolent offender who grew marijuana for personal use.”