Criminal Justice

Black veteran faces 5-year sentence after bringing his medical pot into Alabama

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A Black Iraq war veteran is facing five years in prison after a police officer arrested him for bringing medical marijuana into Alabama and liquor into a partly dry county.

An officer arrested Sean Worsley in 2016 at a gas station in Gordo, Alabama, where he was playing loud music, playing air guitar and laughing while looking at his wife, according to the Washington Post, the Alabama Political Reporter and the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Worsley agreed to turn down his music and allowed the officer to search his vehicle.

The officer found medical marijuana that Worsley had legally purchased in Arizona, along with pain pills prescribed to Worsley’s wife, a bottle of vodka and a six-pack of beer.

Medical marijuana is legal in 33 jurisdictions, but not in Alabama. When Worsley was arrested in 2016, Black people in Alabama were more than four times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana, according to the Appleseed.

Worsley had service-connected disabilities, including a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and back and shoulder pain, according to a letter from the Veteran’s Health administration.

Worsley agreed to a plea deal to prevent his wife from also being charged, his wife told an Appleseed researcher. The agreement called for 60 months of probation, drug treatment and fines.

Struggling with financial issues and occasional homelessness, Worsley was unable to pay his court fines or renew his medical marijuana card. When Worsley missed a court date in February 2019, his supervision was terminated. A judge revoked Worsley’s probation in April and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Worsley remains in jail as he appeals his sentence.

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