/Patrick Beadle, Oregon Rastafarian convicted of marijuana trafficking, sentenced 8 years in prison

Patrick Beadle, Oregon Rastafarian convicted of marijuana trafficking, sentenced 8 years in prison

After entering Madison County, Patrick Steve Beadle was stopped by a Madison County deputy. The 46-year old musician was convicted this summer of selling 2.8 pounds marijuana. Madison County Circuit Judge William Chapman sentenced Beadle Monday to eight years. This was under a provision of the law which allows judges to reduce mandatory minimum sentences if certain conditions have been met. Beadle’s lawyers had previously argued that Beadle should receive a sentence similar to simple possession. The penalty for simple possession is between six and 24 years, with the possibility of parole. Chapman, who will be retiring at the end the year, stated that Beadle was found guilty of trafficking. “And that’s why the state decided to prosecute him. This is what a jury made up of twelve Madison County citizens found him guilty. I believe that my sentence should reflect the verdict of the jury. He is being sentenced for trafficking in controlled substances, not simple possession.” This case highlights a ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against Madison County Sheriff’s Department. The suit alleges that the department racially profiled pedestrians and drivers of color. This case also shows a stark contrast between Mississippi’s marijuana laws and the norms of residents in states where marijuana legalization is legal. After a traffic stop in March 2017, a deputy from the sheriff’s office found three packages of marijuana in Beadle’s car. According to Beadle’s attorney Randy Harris who stated that he spoke to Beadle’s local district attorney about Beadle being in possession of the same amount in Oregon where both recreational and medical marijuana is legal, but a deputy sheriff would not have arrested him. Beadle was one of the few cases that went to trial, even though most drug-related charges in Madison County are dismissed. Only two people were found guilty of drug offenses in the county between 2013 and 2017. Chapman claimed that Beadle was sentenced for possession with intent sell or distribute. This trafficking statute is the reason why a jury took 25 minutes just to convict Beadle in July. His family and attorneys insist that Beadle is not a drug dealer. They described him as a law-abiding and practicing Rastafarian from Jamaica, who used his creative energy as a musician under the name Blackfire. The assistant district attorney countered by presenting text messages from Beadle’s phone. These texts were not admissible as evidence in the trial. He claimed that Beadle used music as a codeword to describe marijuana and that he was arranging drug deals. However, it could not be confirmed that any of those messages were from Mississippi numbers. The bill passed by the state House Drug Policy Committee in its last legislative session would have allowed people with valid medical marijuana card issued by other states to be exempted from Mississippi marijuana possession penalties, provided that they possess legal amounts. Threety-one states have legalized medical marijuana in the United States. Four states are considering legalizing recreational and medicinal marijuana. Mississippi could soon join this growing majority — possibly as early as 2020. A ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis already has the support of many prominent conservatives in Mississippi. Shea Dobson (Ocean Springs mayor), a Republican, hosted a public event to collect signatures for the petition. The petition requires 86,000 registered voters to sign up. Dobson stated that the petition would help those with mental health problems like anxiety, PTSD, and cancer. It will also benefit Mississippi as it will generate revenue for the state. Cynthia Stewart, Beadle’s attorney, stated that her client would appeal. Beadle did not testify at his trial. However, his mother Tommy Beadle stated that she had spoken to him frequently over the telephone and reassured her son. Tommy Beadle, his family, and others flew from Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York to see Patrick. Patrick drove from Maryland. Beadle’s mother, who attended all of her son’s court dates, but didn’t make it to the trial in person, will be returning to Mississippi in the next few weeks to continue with the appeals process. Beadle returned to the courtroom and faced his family, as well as a small group of supporters, before putting his hand on his chest. Tommy Beadle stated outside the courthouse that the judge knew the evidence was not there for trafficking conviction. She said, “But the system says that the jury says so, and he must satisfy them.” He’s doing that. He did that. He must satisfy the system.”