Crime & Courts

Cancer patient sentenced to 4 years in prison for marijuana possession

Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of the 900 block of Harmony Drive, Montgomery
Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of the 900 block of Harmony Drive, Montgomery

Only days after the state of Illinois voted to legalize marijuana on a recreational level, a local cancer patient is going to prison for treating his symptoms with THC-laced chocolates.

Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of the 900 block of Harmony Drive in Montgomery, was sentenced May 30 to four years in prison after pleading guilty in a Kane County courtroom to a reduced charge of possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana. He received the package containing more than 40 pounds of the marijuana-infused candy through the U.S. Postal Service more than five years ago, according to court documents.

Franzen was charged in February 2014 with possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana, in addition to the dropped charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a substance containing cocaine and the most serious charge, trafficking more than 5,000 grams of marijuana, which carries a minimum 12-year prison sentence.

Franzen’s attorney, David Camic, said the judge, Clint Hull, had been “very kind” when sentencing Franzen.

“[Franzen] is expected to serve less than half of the sentence,” he said. “We’d hoped to convince the prosecution to give him probation. The judge was cognizant of his health and wanted to give him some sort of break, but 40 pounds of cannabis is a lot.”

Camic said that he “did not believe” that Franzen had a medical marijuana card, and despite the state’s recent ruling, he said that even if it had been in effect when Franzen was arrested, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

“I wish the new legalization law applied to this case,” he said. “From my understanding, [the new law] is for personal use only. His problem is that edibles have a large mass, especially chocolates. And even with legalization, I don’t believe you can import cannabis without authorization.”

Camic explained that Hull allowed Franzen a two-week stay to undergo testing to determine if he is healthy enough to begin serving his term. Franzen’s next court date is June 14.

“The judge wants to make sure the sentence will not be horribly adverse to [Franzen’s] health, as he will not receive the same level of care in prison that he’s currently receiving,” Camic said. “[Hull] wanted to make sure that he doesn’t have ongoing treatment needs as he starts his sentence.”

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