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New Jersey man with multiple sclerosis loses drug crime case


Three years ago a New Jersey man brought a case to court after being charged with operating a facility that produced marijuana. The drug charge resulted after police discovered a number of marijuana plants growing behind his home in 2008.

But this man suffers from the multiple sclerosis, a medical condition that is painful and affects the brain and spinal cord. He did not have health insurance that could cover the cost of pain-relieving medication and instead turned to the medicinal qualities of marijuana. But despite the fact that he did not intend to sell the drug and only used it for his personal purposes, he was still convicted of the manufacturing and possessing the drug.

The entire situation is frustrating for the man who now just wants to get on with his life. When the case initially went to court, the man wanted to use an expert witness to testify how the marijuana could help his medical condition. He also had testimony that showed that he did not sell or intend to sell the marijuana to others.

The judge denied his request and ultimately the jury convicted him. But the man decided to appeal the decision, arguing that the punishment was too harsh for someone who was cultivating the drug for medicinal use. The appellate court did not agree with him and upheld the lower court's decision.

Should this man receive a sentence for growing marijuana that would be the same for someone who grew marijuana with the intent to sell? Should he be protected under the more recent New Jersey law that protects patients like him from being charged with marijuana use?

For this man, the recent New Jersey law does not protect him from penalties. He could spend several years in prison for trying to relieve the pain caused by his debilitating medical condition. Does this make sense?

Source:, "Court panel rules Franklin MS patient can't claim he grew pot for personal use," MaryAnn Spoto, 26 July 2011

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