It was August 2016 when U.S. military veteran Sean Worsley and his wife Eboni were on a road trip to visit each of their parents. They’d stopped to buy gas in a small Alabama town when a local cop approached and told them their music was too loud and that he wanted to search their car. He said he smelled marijuana, which was probably not true unless the officer had canine-level olfactory abilities.
Sean Worsley had Legal Medical Marijuana
Worsley’s legally prescribed medical marijuana was stored properly among his belongings in the backseat. However, his Arizona-issued MMJ recommendation was not legal in Alabama, a fact he was unaware of.
Now, four years years later, Sean Worsley has been sentenced to 60 months in an Alabama prison…for legal medical marijuana.
How did this happen?
Worsley, a disabled Black veteran who earned a Purple Heart for five years of service in the military including a 14-month deployment to Iraq, agreed to the car search. As expected, police officer Carl Abramo of Gordo Alabama found the MMJ, called for backup, then cuffed and arrested Worsley and his wife Eboni.
Eboni’s crime? Her own prescription medication (not MMJ) wasn’t in its original bottle, which Abramo said constituted a felony, with which she was charged.
Their years-long nightmare begins.
The arrest drove the Worsleys into homelessness, joblessness, rendered them penniless, owing thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, lawyers’ fees and travel expenses.
“I feel like I’m being thrown away by a country I went and served for,” Worsley wrote in a letter from the Pickens County Jail to Alabama Appleseed, a criminal justice organization that recently published a detailed account of Worsley’s case.
“I feel like I lost parts of me in Iraq, parts of my spirit and soul that I can’t ever get back.”
Sean, now 33, had been using MMJ to treat a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his deployment in Iraq as well as to calm his nightmares and soothe chronic back pain.
Eboni, according to Appleseed, said that when they got to court, she and Sean were taken to separate rooms where she attempted to explain that her husband was disabled with serious cognitive issues and needed a guardian to help him understand the process and ensure he made an informed decision.
The authorities didn’t seem to care and managed to get Sean to accept a plea and a five-year prison sentence.