Illinois Governor Commutes Sentence of Cancer Patient Jailed for Marijuana Edibles, More Commutes to Come
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has officially commuted the sentence of a Chicago-based man with cancer who was serving four years in prison for ordering 42 pounds of marijuana-infused chocolate. This is according to an Associated Press report.
Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lindsey Hess said Thomas Franzen was released Monday from the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, the Aurora-Beacon News reported. Hess added that the Montgomery man was ordered to complete two years of parole. Franzen’s attorney David Camic said the man’s family was thrilled about his release.
“It would be easy to complain and say that the governor took too long (to pardon his sentence), but realistically in the midst of all that is going on with the coronavirus, we are grateful the governor took the time to release him,” said Camic, adding that Franzen, 37, now lives with his father in Sugar Grove.
As noted by the AP, U.S. Postal Service workers had noticed questionable packages routinely being delivered to Franzen and opened one in February 2014 that contained the THC-infused chocolate. “After being initially charged with drug conspiracy and pot trafficking, Franzen was sentenced to four years for a lesser charge of possessing more than 5,000 grams of marijuana in June 2019. Franzen pleaded guilty a day before Illinois voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.”
Franzen has battled several forms of cancer since he was in high school, Camic said, adding that he used the drugs to self-medicate. Franzen had been diagnosed with testicular cancer that spread to his abdomen, both lungs, around his aorta and a vocal cord. Franzen’s family said his health was deteriorating while behind bars for the last nine months and noted that he didn’t receive proper medical care. The family’s concerns about Franzen’s health increased amid the coronavirus pandemic. At least one person at the Stateville prison has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Pritzker has announced plans to release several low-level, non-violent offenders through a rigorous vetting process.