A 33-year old disabled veteran was recently sentenced to five years in prison for the possession of medical marijuana in Alabama in a case that illustrates the complex legal landscape regarding cannabis in the United States.
Sean Worsley and his wife Eboni were arrested back in 2016 at a Pickens County, Alabama, gas station.
The couple was approached by an officer shortly after 11 pm as loud music was coming from their car. The officer proceeded to search the vehicle, where he discovered medical marijuana, a six-pack of beer, a bottle of vodka, and some painkillers.
Although Sean Worsley had explained to the officer he has a medical marijuana card issued by his home state of Arizona, the officer replied that “Alabama did not have medical marijuana,” after which the Worsleys were arrested.
Pickens County also happens to be one of several of Alabama’s so-called dry counties – where the possession of alcoholic beverages is illegal.
Sean Worsley has been treating the symptoms of PTSD, depression, and chronic pain with medical cannabis.
The pair spent six days in jail before being released on bond. However, about a year later the Worsleys received notice that their Pickens County judge was revoking bonds on all his cases. Once back in Alabama, Sean Worsley, a Purple Heart recipient who served 14 months in Iraq, signed a plea agreement to serve 60 months of probation.
After missing a 2019 court date and finding out Alabama issued a fugitive warrant for his arrest, Worsley was arrested earlier this year and promptly sentenced to five years in prison.
The ordeal detailed in an Alabama Appleseed report has cost the Worsleys their home and jobs, while Sean described feeling “thrown away by a country I went and served for.”
“For a state so eager to honor veterans, Alabama’s justice system produces some confounding results. This system’s determination to punish Sean set off a spiral of job loss, homelessness, additional criminal charges, and eventually incarceration in the country’s most violent prison system — all for a substance that’s legal in states where half of Americans live,” concludes the Alabama Appleseed report that has caught the attention of the mainstream media this week.