A man arrested for possessing legally purchased medical marijuana has received an eight-year prison sentence. Patrick Beadle, a 46 year-old Jamaican-born Rastafarian legally purchased nearly three pounds of marijuana in Oregon, but was arrested for possessing the same cannabis in Mississippi, where authorities convicted him of drug trafficking charges.
In transporting the cannabis from Oregon to Mississippi, Beadle carried it from one of the most lenient states in the union when it comes to marijuana law to one of the strictest.
In Oregon, state law allows for those with a medical marijuana card to possess 1.5 pounds of cannabis at a time. Beadle had 2.89 pounds, which means if he would have caught with it, he could have been charged with a civil penalty for possessing too much, resulting in a fine of $500 or more.
In Mississippi, however, prosecutors threw the book at Beadle and charged him with intent to distribute, although they admitted that they had no evidence that indicated Beadle planned to distribute the marijuana, no scales or baggies or large sums of cash or weapons, according to the Washington Post.
Beadle’s mother Tommy Beadle begged the judge in the case to show leniency, noting that using medical marijuana was part of the Rastafarian religion. “Judge, I’m asking you for mercy for my son,” she said. “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.”
The judge in fact did show some leniency, waiving the 10-year mandatory minimum and instead issuing an eight year prison sentence.
The ACLU has argued that Beadle’s charging and conviction are reflections of racism in the region in which he was arrested. An all-white jury took 25 minutes to deliberate and convict Beadle, who is black. After his conviction, the organization wrote in their blog:
Mr. Beadle was pulled over at 10 a.m. by police in Madison County for crossing over a lane line on the side of the road, a useful pretext for police who are racial profiling. Indeed, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department has long had a culture of rampant racism, targeting the Black community using roadblocks, checkpoints, warrantless home searches, and “jump out” patrols. Such unconstitutional practices led to a lawsuit in 2017 filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Mississippi, and the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett on behalf of Black residents of Madison County. The lawsuit has, in turn, resulted in the discovery of racist e-mails sent within the Department extolling white pride and denigrating people of color.
Photo via Flickr user bloomsberries