John Wilson was freed from Southern State Prison on $15,000 bail Thursday. Earlier this week, a court ruled he could be released while he appeals his drug conviction.
As he left prison, the 37-year-old was more concerned with getting a shave and a haircut than a joint.
New Jersey lawmakers have adopted a medical marijuana law set to take effect Aug. 1.
"Whenever they open the program, I would register and abide by the law," Wilson said. "You know what I mean."
Wilson, 37, was convicted last year of manufacturing marijuana and possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Last month, he was sentenced to five years in prison. His case is a prime example for medical marijuana advocates of how the system now gets these cases wrong. Even under New Jersey's law, patients will not be allowed to grow their own pot. They'll have to get it through state-authorized treatment centers.
Wilson argues the judge in his trial in Somerset County last December erred by not allowing him to enter evidence about his medical condition or tell jurors that he was using pot to treat it.
He says the pot plants growing in the yard of the home he rented in Franklin Township were only for his own use.
As he emerged from prison around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, his bleach blond hair was shaggier than he'd like and he was bearded — to his mother's consternation. He said the prison razors hurt his face too much to shave. Wilson said prison was "scary" but that aside from some muscle spasms, his health was OK while he was in custody.
He said he was due to begin receiving his traditional MS drugs on Friday, but declined. When he's free on bail, he said, he can't afford to pay the $3,000-a-month cost.