Governor Tom Wolf forgives ophthalmologist who cultivated marijuana for sick woman

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday pardoned an ophthalmologist who said he started growing marijuana to help his dying wife reduce her opioid use.

Dr. Paul Ezell, 65, of Delaware County outside of Philadelphia, served six months in prison in 2014 and lost his ability to practice medicine after pleading guilty to a drug charge.

Ezell said he started growing marijuana to help his wife reduce her use of prescription opioids. After his death, Ezell was in the process of dismantling his basement operation when an informant spotted newspaper clippings in the trash can and reported him to the police. Haverford Township Police raided Ezell’s home and confiscated 28 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.

Ezell, a certified ophthalmologist, pleaded guilty less than two years before Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana.

“Here’s a 30-year-old doctor who didn’t have a speeding ticket and then his whole life was ruined for giving his wife drugs that are now legal in Pennsylvania,” Lt. John Fetterman, who chairs the board of Pardons and is a strong advocate for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The pardon could allow Ezell to return to medicine, according to the lieutenant governor’s office, which made the announcement.

Emails and phone messages were sent to Ezell for comment.

Next month, the pardons commission will hear the case of Ezell’s daughter, Victoria Ezell, a nurse who pleaded guilty, has served her sentence and also lost her license due to the marijuana case.

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