A man with stage four testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and abdominal cavity, has been sentenced to four years in prison for ordering a package of THC-infused chocolates which he reportedly used to relieve his symptoms.
The 37-year-old man, Thomas J. Franzen from Montgomery, near Chicago, pleaded guilty in court to a reduced charge of possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis. He had reportedly ordered the products from a dispensary in California in order to self-medicate, as he continued to battle cancer.
The felony of possession carries a prison term of four to 15 years, though Franzen was eligible for probation.
Franzen’s defense attorney, David Camic, said prosecutors showed ‘compassion’ by dismissing the most severe charge of cannabis trafficking. Authorities reportedly intercepted a 42-pound package from the California dispensary, containing 430 individually wrapped ‘marijuana chocolates’ in 2014.
Trafficking cannabis of more than 5,000 grams usually carries a prison term of 12 to 60 years, with no chance of probation, the Daily Herald reports. However, prosecutors dropped the more serious charge of drug trafficking in ‘recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition.’
However, prosecutors revealed authorities had searched Franzen’s home and reportedly found evidence to suggest he was ‘a drug dealer’, including cocaine, over 100 additional grams of marijuana and ‘other items’ used by dealers.
Camic attested his client used the chocolate to self-medicate. In 2018, an expert evaluated Franzen, and found he had testicular cancer which had spread to his lungs and abdominal cavity.
According to prosecutors, Franzen delayed his prosecution by more than five years due to his medical condition, preventing him from sitting through a trial or serving time in prison, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
However, state attorney Joe McMahon said: ‘In fact, Mr. Franzen’s own physician stated that Franzen’s medical condition would not prevent him from sitting through his trial.’
[T]he amount [of cannabis products] he purchased far exceeds what would be used for personal consumption and is evidence that he is a drug dealer.
The 37-year-old is due in court again later this month to submit medical tests, which will determine if he is fit to begin his sentence.
Camic added: ‘If he’s able to go in [prison], the judge will take him in. If he needs more time, the judge will give him time.’
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.