Cancer patient sentenced to prison having THC chocolates asks for Pritzker pardon
A Montgomery cancer patient sentenced to four years in prison for having 42 pounds of THC-infused chocolates mailed to his home in 2014 has petitioned Gov. Pritzker for a pardon or to have the sentence commuted so he can receive treatment at home.
Since he was sent to prison last month, Thomas J. Franzen, 37, has lost 20 pounds and is not getting the medical care he was promised, according to his petition filed by attorney David Camic.
Franzen was arrested in February 2014 after authorities flagged a package containing the THC chocolates, got a search warrant and waited for him to accept it.
Franzen, his attorney said, was using the chocolates and other marijuana products to self-medicate while battling a string of cancers that were diagnosed when he was 17.
"(He) should not spend time in prison for his attempt to live with cancer," Camic said, adding he sent the petition to the governor's office on Wednesday.
In the petition, Camic details his client's turbulent childhood and history of fighting various forms of cancer, which began with testicular cancer that now has spread to his lungs and other organs. The petition also notes Franzen was one of the first Illinois residents to receive a medical marijuana card in 2016 and this was his first conviction of any kind.
Kane County prosecutors argued that Franzen was selling the drugs and that paraphernalia was found in his home and he had ledgers and cash on hand. Camic said his client sold shoes and art on eBay.
"His crime was motivated by an attempt to mitigate his pain and symptoms through the use of cannabis. His medical need to use cannabis is verified and supported by the fact he was granted a medical use card," read part of the petition.
The petition also included letters and other documentation from his doctor, along with 19 letters of support from friends, his employer and relatives, including his uncle Chuck Nelson, who also serves as Aurora deputy mayor.
"I can only imagine the challenges that these type of requests present to you," Nelson wrote to Pritzker. "Therefore, I humbly ask that you consider a sentence commutation which will allow Tom to return home and receive the medical care he desperately needs."
Under the original charges and because of the quantity of drugs he possessed, Franzen faced an enhanced punishment of 12 to 60 years in prison and would be required to serve 75 percent of any sentence instead of the customary 50 percent for most crimes.
Facing a minimum nine-year term, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felony marijuana possession, and was sentenced to the four-year minimum by Kane County Judge Clint Hull. Franzen even thanked prosecutors for offering him a chance to plead guilty to the lesser charges; Camic said prosecutors would not consider probation.
No hearing date has been set, but Camic is hoping the matter will be considered in October or sooner. An email to Pritzker's office was not immediately returned Wednesday.