Illinois man serving prison sentence for possession of 42 pounds of THC-infused chocolate seeks clemency


FILE - Gov. J.B. Pritzker
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a bill signing Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.

A medical marijuana patient worried his cancer will return is asking Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for clemency after being sentenced to prison for buying 42 pounds of chocolate infused with cannabis.

Kane County Circuit Judge Clint Hull sentenced Thomas J. Franzen, a 37-year-old from Montgomery, to four years in prison in June after he pleaded guilty to buying a shipment of cannabis-infused chocolate and having it shipped to his home in suburban Chicago.

Franzen was using cannabis products to manage multiple bouts of cancer, including testicular cancer, that he’d had since he was a teenager, his attorney, David Camic, said.

Franzen formally made his case to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on Wednesday in Chicago.

Franzen’s sister, a nurse, told the board that Franzen’s health issues have resurfaced and that the prison system isn’t equipped to treat him.

“Over the past thirty days, his health has taken a turn for the worse,” Camic said. “In this unique case and in these unique circumstances, get him out of prison. Let him save his life.”

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon previously said Franzen was dealing drugs and that police found other drugs along with a ledger and other evidence of drug sales. Camic has said his client was selling shoes and vintage toys on eBay.

Franzen’s plea for clemency comes as the state prepares to expunge the sentences of thousands of people convicted of low-level marijuana crimes after lawmakers passed legislation to legalize recreational cannabis use. The state’s adult-use cannabis law is set to take effect on Jan. 1.

Franzen’s conviction involved more cannabis than allowed for under the new expungement process.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board hears pleas for pardons and, after deliberating, can recommend clemency or commutation of a sentence to the governor.