A Black disabled veteran has been sentenced to five years in prison for marijuana possession following a series of events that stemmed from an arrest at an Alabama gas station.
According to NewsOne, Sean Worsley, an Iraq War veteran who suffered from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, was prescribed medical marijuana by a doctor in Arizona. For years he used the substance to help with his pain and nightmares.
On Aug. 15, 2016, Sean and his wife Eboni were driving through Alabama and stopped at a local gas station outside of Tuscaloosa to fill their tank. Officer Carl Abramo reportedly heard loud music coming from their vehicle and “observed a Black male get out of the passenger side vehicle,” according to the Alabama Appleseed. The officer claims he told the Worsley’s that their music was too loud and in violation of the noise ordinance. The couple turned their music down.
The officer then said that he smelled marijuana. Sean explained to the officer that he had a medical marijuana card from Arizona, but the officer didn’t care. “I explained to him that Alabama did not have medical marijuana,” the police report stated. “I then placed the suspect in hand cuffs.”
Abramo also said he found rolling papers, a six-pack of beer, vodka, pain pills and a pipe in the back seat of the vehicle. Sean and Eboni spent six days in jail because their marijuana charge was bumped up to a felony. Almost a year after they were released on bond, the bondsman called them and said they had to rush back to Alabama because the Pickens County judge was revoking bonds on all of his cases.
Once they arrived, they were taken to separate rooms for questioning. Authorities would not allow Sean to have a legal guardian, even though he was disabled and couldn’t make informed decisions.
“They said no, and they literally locked me in a room separate from him,” Eboni told the Alabama Appleseed. “They told him that if he didn’t sign the plea agreement that we would have to stay incarcerated until December and that they would charge me with the same charges as they charged him.” Sean signed the plea agreement and had to serve five years on probation, complete a drug treatment program and pay thousands of dollars in fines.
In 2019, Sean missed a court date and Alabama issued a fugitive warrant for his arrest. While battling homelessness, he also failed to pay the $250 fee to renew his medical card and was found in possession of marijuana and was arrested during a traffic stop in Arizona.
He was extradited back to Alabama and sentenced to five years in prison. Sean is currently appealing his sentence. “I feel like I’m being thrown away by a country I went and served for,” he wrote in a letter from the jail to the Alabama Appleseed. “I feel like I lost parts of me in Iraq, parts of my spirit and soul that I can’t ever get back.”
Eboni has started a GoFundMe to help with her husband’s legal fees and other expenses. The page has raised over $44,000 so far. A petition has also been started as people want to bring attention to Sean’s case.