The Pennsylvania governor apologizes to the doctor who grew weeds for his dying wife
Image above: Paul Ezell, right; Jayne Ezell, left; Daughter Valerie Ezell, center.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf pardoned a doctor who was arrested and jailed for growing medical marijuana to help his dying wife.
Dr. Paul Ezell, an ophthalmologist from the Philadelphia suburbs, was arrested in 2014 after an anonymous tipster told police that he was growing and selling weeds. Cops started sniffing at Ezell and were given a warrant to raid his home after finding cannabis in his trash. In his basement they discovered a weed cultivation with 28 fully grown plants, lights and bongs.
Police charged the doctor with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, and a variety of other crimes. In the end, Ezell spent 6 months in prison and lost his license to practice medicine. The doctor’s daughter, Victoria, was also convicted and her nursing license was revoked.
It is true that Dr. Ezell grew weeds but didn’t sell them for a profit. The doctor actually grew medicinal cannabis to help his wife cut down on addictive opioid drugs. Jayne Ezell used three different opioid drugs to treat the pain caused by progressive spinal disease and scoliosis. After seeing his wife struggling with these addictive substances, the doctor looked for alternatives.
Ezell soon discovered a plethora of research showing that a medicinal pot can help treat chronic pain and help you get rid of opioids. Unfortunately, medical marijuana was still illegal in Pennsylvania at the time, so the doctor took it upon himself to illegally start growing weeds.
Despite her best efforts, Jayne overdosed on opioids and died in 2013. A few months later, Dr. Ezell to decompose and dispose of his weeds, but someone apparently spotted him when he threw away some of his plants and called the police.
“Here’s a 30-year-old doctor who didn’t even get a ticket and then his whole life is ruined for giving his wife drugs that are now legal in Pennsylvania,” says Lt. Governor John Fetterman (D) reports marijuana moment. “This is a prime example of the destructive power of reefer insanity … He’s lost his wife, his career, everything.”
Fetterman brought Ezell’s case to Governor Tom Wolf, another cannabis reform advocate. This week, Wolf granted Ezell a pardon that will enable him to practice medicine again. The State Board of Pardons will also hear the case of Victoria Ezell next month. If the board and governor grant this pardon, she can restore her nursing license and resume her career.
Governor Wolf has already pardoned 96 people for weed crimes, and he’s also working with Fetterman to encourage state lawmakers to pass comprehensive law to legalize adults.
These grace acts reflect other efforts to correct the injustice of the cannabis ban in the United States. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker pardoned thousands of former weed offenders in late 2019, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently signed a bill that allows him to pardon former cannabis convicts en masse as well.
And while state and city officials use their executive powers to pardon pot offenders, other states and cities have launched programs to help people remove minor pot convictions from their criminal records.