Gov. Tom Wolf signed a pardon Wednesday for a former eye doctor from Haverford who was jailed on drug charges after growing marijuana to treat his dying wife.
The move paves the way for Paul Ezell, 65, to apply for reinstatement of his medical license.
In a phone interview, he said that he planned to do so, but that his main goal in seeking the pardon was to help his daughter, Victoria, a nurse who also lost her license after police seized marijuana plants at his house in April 2014.
She was not involved in growing the plants, but pleaded guilty to a drug charge and served a probation sentence rather than risk more than two years in prison, her father said. The state Board of Pardons votes on her case in June.
“The only thing that matters to me is that I paved the way for my daughter to get her pardon,” Ezell said. “She just happened to be in the house that day.”
Asked how he used marijuana to treat his wife, Jayne, Ezell declined to give details on her condition. He said that she had been prescribed opioids for multiple medical problems and that the marijuana was allowing her to transition off the addictive medication before she died in July 2013.
Police seized 28 marijuana plants at the family’s house in April 2014 after receiving an anonymous tip. Ezell said police were able to get a warrant only because he was in the process of throwing out the plants, and they found clippings in his garbage.
Most of the plants were less than 6 inches tall, and the total yield would have been just a few ounces of pot, he said. Contrary to what the tipster alleged, Ezell said he never sold or provided the drug to his patients.
Ezell pleaded guilty to a felony charge and served six months in jail, winning early release for good behavior, according to the office of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who chairs the pardons board. Since then, he has managed a sports medicine practice.
Ezell applied for the pardon in 2020, and the board voted 3-1 in March to recommend it, with one member abstaining.
After Wolf granted the move Wednesday, Fetterman called Ezell to tell him. The lieutenant governor then praised the pardon in a news release.
“Here’s a doctor of 30 years who had not so much as a speeding ticket, and then his whole life is ruined for giving his wife medicine that’s now legal in Pennsylvania,” he said.