A Rastafarian musician could smoke medical marijuana in Oregon. But in Mississippi he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
marijuana, medical marijuana, racial profiling, ACLU, Patrick Beadle
A courthouse in Madison County, Miss., in August 2015. (Jeff Amy/AP) By Meagan Flynn Meagan Flynn Morning Mix reporter Email Bio Follow October 19 at 7:12 AM Driving through the Mississippi Delta, Patrick Beadle had to offer his respect to B.B. King. A Jamaican-born Rastafarian musician from Oregon, Beadle, 46, was on a cross-country trip when he was pulled over in Madison County, Miss., on the morning of March 7, 2017, Mississippi Today recently reported. In the car was nearly three pounds of marijuana, which Beadle said he obtained legally in Oregon with his medical marijuana license to help treat the chronic pain in both of his knees after years of playing college basketball. In Oregon, he might have faced a civil fine for possessing too much marijuana at one time. But it was a different story in Madison County, where he was arrested and charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, an offense with a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. In July, an all-white jury took all of 25 minutes to convict Beadle, who is black. On Monday, Beadle was sentenced to eight years without the possibility of parole, the Clarion Ledger reported. Under the Mississippi penal code, a trafficking conviction does not allow parole or probation. Beadle’s attorneys indicated that they planned to appeal. Beadle’s case highlighted the splintered nature of marijuana penalties across the United States as more states move toward decriminalization or legalization while others remain resistant. During the course of his trial, prosecutors had conceded that, beyond the large amount of marijuana stashed in his vehicle, there was no evidence of trafficking, such as a scale, bags for distribution, large sums of money or weapons, the Clarion Ledger reported. As a result, Beadle’s attorneys urged Madison County Circuit Court Judge William Chapman to sentence Beadle for simple possession instead. But during Beadle’s sentencing hearing this week, Chapman declined, saying he must have respect for the jury’s findings. “Judge, I’m asking you for mercy for my son,” Beadle’s mother, Tommy Beadle, said during his hearing, according to the Ledger. She added that it was part of Rastafarians’ religion to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. “I wouldn’t stand here before you if my son was trafficking in drugs. As a mother, I’m asking you to please don’t lock him up behind bars.” But while it was enough to earn some leniency, it was not enough to stave off a prison sentence. Chapman, after taking the circumstances into account, wavered from the 10-year mandatory minimum to give Beadle an eight-year sentence. “This is not the typical defendant you see,” Randy Harris, Beadle’s trial attorney, told the Ledger. “He is not a drug dealer.” During the trial, Beadle’s legal counsel argued that he had been a victim of racial profiling and denied that he crossed the fog line, which was why police claimed they had pulled him over in March. For this reason, the case also brought renewe
A Rastafarian musician could smoke medical marijuana in Oregon. But in Mississippi he was sentenced
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