Man in prison for having 42 pounds of THC chocolates to get clemency hearing in October

  • Thomas J. Franzen

    Thomas J. Franzen

Updated 8/23/2019 10:27 AM

The Illinois Prison Review Board is slated Oct. 9 to hear a clemency petition from a Montgomery cancer patient who was sentenced this summer to four years in prison for having 42 pounds of THC chocolates mailed to his house.

The attorney for Thomas J. Franzen, 37, is hopeful Gov. J.B. Pritzker will commute his client's sentence and is worried his client's health is deteriorating in prison.


"We are becoming even more concerned about Tom's health and him making it to the hearing date without further aggravation to his health," defense attorney David Camic said.

This week, Camic learned from Franzen that his health problems are worsening in prison. Franzen was diagnosed with cancer toward the end of high school and has been battling variations of it ever since.

In a 3-page letter, Franzen details the effects on his body from working in the kitchen and prison yard.

He says pain medications provided by the prison are dangerous to his kidneys and he complains of migraines, blood in his urine, kidney pain, nose bleeds, asthma and difficulty seeing the prison doctor.

"No cancer check ups, no blood work," read part of Franzen's letter. "They took blood June 18th for cancer but not sure what kind."

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The Prisoner Review Board meets in Chicago and typically makes confidential recommendations to the governor several months after the hearing his completed.

Jason Sweat, chief legal counsel and spokesman for the board, said Franzen's petition is one of 125 cases on the Oct. 9, 10 and 11 docket.

Pritzker's office has not responded to inquiries regarding Franzen's case.

Franzen was arrested in February 2014 after authorities flagged a suspicious package being delivered to his Montgomery house.

Authorities obtained a search warrant, waited from him to accept it, and arrested him. Inside were 430 THC-infused chocolate bars weighing some 42 pounds, according to authorities.

His attorney has said Franzen was using the chocolates and other marijuana products to self-medicate while battling the cancers.

After years of delays, Franzen pleaded guilty this summer to felony marijuana possession, which was punishable by four to 15 years in prison but also eligible for probation.


Under state law, Franzen can have his four-year prison term cut in half for good behavior.

Because of the large quantity of drugs involved, Franzen faced a sentence of 12 to 60 years if convicted of the original charges and would have to serve 75% instead of the customary 50% for most crimes.

Faced with a possible minimum nine-year term, Camic said his client pleaded guilty. Prosecutors argued that although Franzen had a medical marijuana card, he was selling drugs to others and possessed more than was allowed under the law.

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