Why was Patrick Beadle imprisoned for possessing marijuana he legally obtained?
An Oregon man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for possessing medical marijuana he purchased legally in his home state. Patrick Beadle, 46, was sentenced to eight years in prison without the possibility of parole in Madison County, Mississippi last week.
In March 2017, Beadle was driving through Mississippi when he was pulled over by police for crossing a lane line, “a useful pretext for police who are racial profiling,” according to the ACLU. Police then searched Beadle’s car, claiming they smelled marijuana, and found 2.89 of cannabis wrapped in three plastic packages. Because of the amount of cannabis discovered, Beadle was charged with a drug trafficking charge– possession with intent to sell or distribute.
Beadle, who is a Rastafarian musician and registered medical marijuana patient in Oregon, said that he purchased the cannabis there legally and that it was for his personal use. However, in July he was tried and convicted by an all-white jury after 25 minutes of deliberation.
Mother Pleads For Leniency
At a sentencing hearing Beadle’s mother, Tommy Beadle, asked Madison County Circuit Judge William Chapman to be lenient on her son because he is not a drug dealer.
“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.”
Randy Harris, one of Beadle’s attorneys, agreed with his client’s mother.
“This is not the typical defendant you see,” said Harris. “He is not a drug dealer.”
However, the judge noted that Beadle had not been convicted of simple possession, despite a lack of evidence indicating that he had sold or intended to sell cannabis in Mississippi.
“But he has been found guilty of trafficking,” said Chapman. “And that’s what the state chose to prosecute him for. That’s what a jury of 12 good Madison County citizens found him guilty of, and I believe my sentence should be in line with those findings of the jury. So he is being sentenced not for simple possession but for trafficking in controlled substances.”
The offense for which Beadle was convicted actually carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in Mississippi. But Chapman reduced the sentence to eight years under conditions allowed by state law.
After the sentencing, the defendant’s mother said that she believed that Chapman knew there was no evidence to support a drug trafficking conviction.
“But the system says, the jury says so, he has to satisfy them,” she said. “That’s what he’s doing. That’s what he did. He has to satisfy the system.”
County Facing Racial Bias Suit
Beadle believes that he is a victim of racial profiling by law enforcement, which the ACLU says is rampant in Madison County. The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against the county last year, claiming blacks are regularly subjected to illegal search and seizure. Beadle’s attorney said that people of color are an easy target for biased cops.
“And here’s Patrick Beadle from Oregon, and he’s driven his Jeep all the way from Oregon, apparently without incident because he made it here,” Harris said. “And he ain’t in Madison County five seconds when he’s chased down and brutalized” by police.