Gov. Christie: No clemency for convicted pot grower
TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie said he won't grant clemency for the Somerset County man serving a five-year prison sentence for growing marijuana in his back yard, despite the man's contention he did it to control the debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
During the monthly call-in show, "Ask the Governor" on 101.5 FM last night, Christie said he doesn't believe John Ray Wilson grew the pot for medicinal reasons, and even questioned the Franklin Township man's diagnosis
. Christie repeated the sentiments at an unrelated Trenton press conference this morning.
"The amount he was growing was well beyond the amount of pot you would need for medicinal use for yourself,'' Christie said during the radio show. "His diagnosis has been brought into question as to whether he really has MS or not."
Police found 17 marijuana plants behind Wilson's home in 2008, which he contends was used to help quell the symptoms of his disease. He was barred from bringing up his medical condition and he was convicted in 2009. An appeals court upheld his conviction last year, and the state Supreme Court last month declined to hear the case. Wilson began serving his sentence in January.
Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey, responded by emailing portions of Wilson's medical file to reporters, at the request of Wilson's mom.
A copy of an MRI report from 12/1/2011 cites multiple sclerosis as the reason for the test, administered at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick. "The lesions are considerably more than that seen in 2002,'' according to the report. "Findings are consistent with demyelinating disease as can be found in patients with multiple sclerosis."
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks "the myelin - the fatty sheath that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves," according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"Mr. Christie's comments on NJ101.5 were callous and completely lacked compassion - John could significantly deteriorate in prison while he serves his sentence,'' Goldstein said. "The Governor is certainly a legal expert and definitely a wannabe radio talk radio show host - but he is not a neurologist or a medical cannabis caregiver."
"We hope Governor Christie will review the merits John Ray Wilson's clemency on his own rather than through a team of attorneys," he added.
Goldstein also shared the MRI report with Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-Union), who sponsored a resolution urging the governor to grant Wilson clemency. The non-binding resolution (SCR89)that passed a Senate Committee last month asks the governor to commute Wilson's sentence, especially in light of the state's 2010 passage of a law allowing the manufacture and sale of a medical marijuana.
Although he did not mention the resolution, Christie said he considered the matter a dead issue based on what he was told by his legal staff who reviewed the case.
"Unless something new comes up, yeah, I think he has got to go to jail and stay there."