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John Ray Wilson, Should He Be A Free Man?

Governor Chris Christie is not in favor of freeing John Ray Wilson, an MS patient who was caught growing pot in Somerset County. Wilson claims he was cultivating the stuff so he could smoke it and get relief from his painful autoimmune disease, but prosecutors still went after him, and a judge gave Wilson a 5 year jail sentence.

Governor Chris Christie
Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

On Townsquare Media’s Ask the Governor program last month, Christie said, “There are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered about John Ray Wilson’s activity. The amount of pot that he’s been growing (and) was well beyond the amount of pot you would need for medicinal use for yourself, and his diagnosis has been brought into question…..as to whether he really does have MS or not.”

The full State Senate will vote Thursday on a resolution urging Christie to exercise executive clemency to commute the five-year prison sentence of Wilson. The resolution is sponsored by Senators Ray Lesniak, Nick Scutari, and Jim Whelan. It passed the Senate Judiciary committee on February 16th with eight votes in the affirmative, one in opposition, and two abstentions.

Today, Lesniak’s office released a medical opinion from a doctor who examined Wilson. The entirety of the physician’s letter is below.

Dear Honorable State Senator Lesniak, and all concerned parties,

I am John Ray Wilson’s physician.  I am an Internal Medicine physician practicing in Atlantic County for 28 years.

Mr. Wilson was last seen in my office in the month of November, 2011. As you are well aware, he recently begun a mandatory 5 year prison term for the crime of self medicating his Multiple Sclerosis.  Governor Christie, whom the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee called upon by resolution SCR89 to commute his sentence, recently rejected this consideration, questioning Mr. Wilson’s diagnosis, as referenced above.

I hereby affirm, having had the opportunity to perform a thorough history and physical exam upon Mr. Wilson, and having reviewed his multiple MRI reports on Brain and Spine, and having reviewed multiple neurologic consults from multiple neurologists, that I am convinced, to the best of my medical ability, and with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that John Ray Wilson has Multiple Sclerosis. Specifically, he has typical, progressive, Central Neurologic System findings, as well as Thoracic Myelitis, and Optic Neuritis.

He is a man with a severe neurological disease, severe enough for him to have had to seek expensive secondary and tertiary levels of healthcare despite his lack of healthcare insurance. He was told by multiple neurologists too go on ‘standard therapy’ for Multiple Sclerosis.  Standard therapy today costs more than $30,000 per year, and that’s just the medication costs. Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson cannot afford neither this medication, nor even healthcare insurance. If you have no health insurance, and limited resources, spending $30,000 per annum on a long term medication, of questionable efficacy, is not an option. If one makes a modest income, and must work to earn a living, then ignoring MS is not an option either.  John Ray Wilson elected to solve his dilemma by self medicating his MS with cannabis. The most common prescriptive for Multiple Sclerosis are usually the interferons or another biogenetic agent. These medications are not just expensive in themselves, but require expensive management costs as well.

Jeffrey S. Pollack M.D.

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