MS patient on trial for growing marijuana

SOMERVILLE, N.J. - December 14, 2009 36-year-old John Wilson of Franklin suffers from multiple sclerosis and is now on trial charged with maintaining a drug manufacturing facility. He was arrested last year for growing 17 marijuana plants in his backyard and could face up to 20 years if convicted.

With no health insurance to pay for prescription drugs, Wilson was using marijuana to relieve the symptoms of MS.

"I have pain in my joints, also I have a lot of muscle spasms and marijuana definitely it lessens the pain."

While jury selection goes on inside the Somerset County courthouse, outside protesters holding signs came to support Wilson and to criticize the state for pursuing the case even as the NJ legislature moves closer to joining 14 other states in legalizing medical marijuana.

"If I don't use it it's quite visible that I'm having muscle spasms and can't really move as well," said Chuck Kwiatkowski who is also an MS patient.

2 lawmakers are asking Governor Corzine to pardon Wilson, saying it's cruel to treat the sick and dying as if they were drug lords.

"The unfairness of John Wilson to potentially serve 20 years when guys can commit rape and serve less time," said Attorney Anne Davis.

Protesters are also upset about the trial judge's ruling that Wilson cannot tell the jury that he has MS and that's why he was growing pot.

"It's obviously caused a major problem for us in defending John. Try to defend someone when you can't let the jury know the truth," explained Wilson's attorney James Wronko.

That's especially upsetting to the widower of MS patient Cheryl Miller who died in 2003.

"He's not even allowed to let them know he's ill in any way, it's not a fair trial," said Jim Miller.

For its part the Attorney General's office tells Action News that medical marijuana is a legislative issue and right now state lawyers are simply prosecuting the laws currently on the books.

Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.