An Illinois man is going to jail for four years because he ordered 42 pounds of cannabis-infused edibles from a California dispensary five years ago. Because this is happening so close in relation to Illinois passing legislation to establish a legalized cannabis program starting January 1, 2020, it’s been in the news recently. And 42 pounds may sound like a great deal of edibles, and truthfully it is, provided they are made properly.
But that’s not quite the whole story about a very big box of cannabis chocolate bars and the man who ordered it. That man is Thomas J. Franzen, 37, who ordered a box containing 430 individual cannabis-infused chocolate bars from a California dispensary through USPS to self-medicate his Stage 4 cancer. As High Times reports, Franzen for years “has been fighting an aggressive form of testicular cancer that has spread to his lungs and abdominal cavity. He also suffers from renal cancer in one of his kidneys.”
After the shipment was discovered by Illinois authorities, Franzen was charged with “trafficking more than 5,000 grams of cannabis,” which prosecutors later reduced to a charge of possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis. By dropping the trafficking charge and its 12- to 60-year prison sentence (again—this is for cannabis), Franzen pleaded it down to a “mere” four years.
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But for someone with Stage 4 cancer, four years may as well be a life sentence. On June 14, Franzen will go before a judge with a health report to determining when he will begin serving. His lawyer told the Chicago Tribune, “He’s going through necessary medical treatment and hopefully he’s in a period of remission…. The judge was very kind to delay the sentencing because he will not receive the same level of care in prison that he’s receiving now.”
(The cited court records weren’t available to determine how the prosecution determined that the 430 bars equalled “more than 5,000 grams of cannabis.” That would mean each bar contained an average of over 11 grams per bar, which seems extremely high.)
It’s unimaginable that the judge would not offer “hospice arrest” or some other alternatives, as sentencing a dying man to spend his remaining days in a cage for edibles seems excessive.