Disabled Black Veteran Faces Five Years In Prison For Medical Marijuana

Disabled Black Veteran Faces Five Years In Prison For Medical Marijuana

Sean Worsley served his country in war-ravaged Iraq by clearing roadside explosives. He returned home with a purple medal bearing George Washington’s face, and a lifetime of pain stemming from the post-traumatic stress disorder, and the traumatic brain injury he acquired while overseas. Now Sean feels that he’s “being thrown away by a country he went and served for.”

The Cost Of Listening To Loud Music While Black In Alabama 

In August of 2016, Sean and his wife Eboni were taking a road trip to visit both of their parents. They had stopped first in Mississippi where Eboni’s family resided and were on the way to North Carolina to surprise Sean’s grandmother. Her home had been destroyed in a recent hurricane, and Sean was hoping to help her rebuild. The couple pulled over at a gas station in Gordo, Alabama to refill their tank, when the Worsley’s worst nightmare became a reality.

Officer Carl Abramo confronted Sean and Eboni, telling them that the music coming from their car was too loud, and it violated the town’s noise ordinances. During this time, Officer Abramo stated that he smelled marijuana, and asked the Worsleys about the odor.

Sean, a medical marijuana patient, thought he had nothing to hide. He explained to Officer Abramo that he was a veteran of the Iraq war, and used medical marijuana to treat the injuries he sustained during his time in the service. Sean’s words fell on deaf ears, as Abramo arrested both Sean and Eboni. According to a study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, African Americans in Alabama were four times more likely to be charged with marijuana possession than whites in 2016—the year that the Worsleys were arrested.

Sean and Eboni Worsley

The Aftermath

It took six days in an Alabama jail until Sean and Eboni were able to be released on bond. When they returned home to Arizona, they were unable to maintain their housing due to the charges, forcing the couple to relocate to Nevada. A year later, an Alabama judge revoked all bonds on the cases he managed, prompting the Worsleys to return to the Heart of Dixie. There, despite the fact that the VA had determined Sean was totally disabled and in need of a caregiver/legal guardian, the two were locked in separate rooms. Sean was threatened with the incarceration of Eboni if he did not sign a plea deal. He was backed into a corner with no other way out. He felt he had no choice but to capitulate and sign the agreement.

The plea agreement resulted in thousands of dollars worth of fines, mandatory drug treatment, and 60 months of probation—probation which transferred to Arizona because that is where Sean lived during the time of the initial arrest.

What followed was a series of bureaucratic quagmires that resulted in the Worsleys falling in and out of homelessness, and rendered Sean incapable of complying with the terms of his probation.

Earlier this year, Sean was pulled over by Arizona police. He was in possession of marijuana, and he had been unable to afford the costs of renewing his medical marijuana card. Arizona police extradited Sean back to Alabama at the cost of $4,345, which the state passed onto Sean in addition to the $3,833.40 he already owed in fines and court costs. On April 28th, an Alabama court sentenced Sean to five years in prison. 

How To Help

The Alabama prison system is notoriously violent, with the highest homicide rate in the country. Sean is leaving behind two young children. The Worsleys desperately need money to pay for the attorney fees, fines, and court costs that are required to fight for Sean’s freedom. As of now, the Gofundme set up by Eboni has raised more than $90,000, but every cent helps combat this injustice. You can also sign the Change.org petition.

Photo credit: Sean’s Gofundme; Change.org

Michigan Cops Lock Up 80-Year Old Grandmother For Expired Medical Marijuana Card

Michigan Cops Lock Up 80-Year Old Grandmother For Expired Medical Marijuana Card

An 80-year-old grandmother who uses medical marijuana to treat arthritis was arrested by Michigan police earlier this summer for possessing a small amount of cannabis.

Delores Saltzman, of Clare County—a small, rural and conservative area in Central Michigan—then then spent a night in jail because her state-issued medical marijuana registration had expired.

Saltzman was not convicted of a crime. Charges were dropped last week after she renewed her medical cannabis paperwork.

However, news of her arrest is causing nationwide outrage.

Saltzman’s case is also likely to serve as a rallying point this fall, when Michigan voters will decide on a broader marijuana legalization ballot initiative—which Saltzman now heartily endorses.

Saltzman had been a medical cannabis patient for about four years when Clare County Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Gruno visited Saltzman’s home at around 9 p.m. on June 13.

The grandmother credits cannabis with saving her life, after doctors prescribed her opioids that “caused stomach pains and vomiting,” she told a local Fox affiliate.

According to court records, Deputy Gruno was there to locate Saltzman’s great-granddaughter, who had lost her phone and ID, when she smelled marijuana while on Saltzman’s porch.

Saltzman told the deputy the marijuana was hers. She also revealed that while she was a licensed medical marijuana patient, she had let her recommendation expire.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Michigan since 2008.

It can take up to a month for patients to have a renewal application processed, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

According to researchers, based on differing areas’ arrest rates, police in Michigan (as well as everywhere else) “exercise considerable discretion regarding enforcement, not just for marijuana offenses”—meaning, police in situations like Gruno’s have a choice whether or not to enforce the law to the fullest.

Marijuana possession in Michigan is a misdemeanor, and Gruno chose to enforce the law.

The officer seized “several pipes, four joints and one purple jar” with less than an eighth of an ounce of cannabis, Saltzman said.

The deputy then searched the octogenarian’s bedroom, handcuffed her and took her off to jail for the night, where cold conditions severely aggravated her arthritis, she said.

Gruno also failed to read Saltzman her Miranda rights, Saltzman said.

According to Michelle Ambrozaitis, the Clare County prosecutor, Saltzman was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession after Deputy Gruno forwarded on the case to prosecutors for charging.

“However, our goal is to ensure that individuals who utilize medical marijuana are doing so legally,” Ambrozaitis wrote in a statement provided to Fox 17. “As such, Ms. Saltzman was encouraged to obtain her medical marijuana card and if she did so, the case would be dismissed. She did obtain her medical marijuana card and the case was dismissed.”

The charges were dismissed last week. In a statement provided to the television station, Clare County Sheriff John Wilson seemed to defend the arrest.

“What the person was doing was illegal, had she renewed her medical marijuana card she would have been fine,” he wrote in a statement. “The person was illegally in possession of marijuana.”

According to Saltzman, though her registration was renewed, she’s still waiting on her card—and, were Gruno to visit her home again, she could technically be sent back to jail.

Saltzman says she’s now sharing her story for two reasons: to encourage others to be open participants in the state’s medical marijuana program, and to encourage everyone to vote for the legalization initiative in November.

Legalization has followed busts of sick senior citizens in other jurisdictions.

Perhaps most infamously, in September 2016, Massachusetts cops used a helicopter to raid the home of an 81-year-old woman who was growing a single marijuana plant.

Less than three months later, Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Michigan Cops Lock Up 80-Year Old Grandmother For Expired Medical Marijuana Card

Medical Marijuana Patient Sues Rhode Island Company for Discrimination

Medical Marijuana Patient Sues Rhode Island Company for Discrimination

A medical marijuana patient was all but officially hired for a summer internship in the textiles industry in Providence, until she mentioned her medical condition and preferred medication- cannabis. What was to be her final step to graduation turned, instead, into filing the first discrimination lawsuit, of its kind, in the state of Rhode Island.

Christine Callaghan is a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island. She was set up for a two-month internship opportunity with Darlington Fabrics Corporation. After having already worked out all of the details of the internship, she had one final meeting with company representatives where she disclosed that she suffers from debilitating migraine headaches. Callaghan explained she she seeks relief with the use of medical marijuana, but explained that she would never use it before work or bring it with her. Nothing was mentioned about this being a problem during the meeting.

It was not until a couple of days later that Callaghan received a call from two company representatives, telling her that she could not be employed by Darlington Fabrics because she was a state-registered medical marijuana patient. At this point, it was too late for Callaghan to find a replacement internship that would allow her to graduate on time. Callaghan is now being represented by Carly Iafrate, of the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, in the discrimination lawsuit. When asked about the lawsuit, Iafrate explained to WPRI 12 that sitting back, permitting companies to discriminate against medical marijuana users would result in its legalization being an empty promise.

The ruling on cases like this will help pave the way, and set precedence for future hearings of the same nature. A person should not be discriminated against for using a plant that grows naturally in the earth, no matter whether that person chooses to use it for recreational purposes or medicinal. A person would not be denied a job for mentioning having a glass of wine before bed, or for taking over the counter pain relievers or even pharmaceutical ones. Cannabis use is still viewed with reefer-madness glasses by some, but that stigma is on the way out the door with rising popularity of marijuana law reform in the United States and the rest of the world.

photo credit: vieuxfuret

Medical Marijuana Credited For Saving Cancer Patient’s Life

Medical Marijuana Credited For Saving Cancer Patient’s Life

Stacey Hutflies of northern California received shocking news one week before her twenty-sixth birthday. She was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer, and had no choice but to begin chemotherapy immediately. Breast cancer and chemo therapy is a deadly combination that Stacey told KRCR 7 News that she would not have survived without the help of medical marijuana,

“Its honestly what got me through chemotherapy, hands down.”

Everything happened so quickly for Stacey. One day she was planning her birthday, and the next, she was going through the worst experience of her young life.

The chemo caused Stacey to lose all of her hair, and made her feel sick all of the time. As a result, she was not able to eat or sleep, and her skin tone was showing signs of a body in distress. She lost so much weight that she did not even weight one-hundred pounds anymore, and her doctor warned that if she did not start eating, she may die. Stacey also began suffering from severe anxiety, buckling under all of the unbearable physical and mental anguish.

Stacey’s oncologist prescribed her what she called “the kitchen sink,” a term she used to describe every pharmaceutical medication available that was classified as cancer treatment drug. The kitchen sink prescription on top of the already horrible experience of going through chemotherapy made it difficult for Stacey to stay positive.

Skeptically and luckily, she decided to try medical marijuana. The moment Stacey introduced medical marijuana into her life, she felt a wave of positive feelings, both physical and mental. Her appetite returned, she was suddenly able to sleep at night, and as a result, she started to regain strength. On top of the physical benefits that she experienced, she reported that smoking cannabis also improved her mood, and gave her the will power to fight. The severe anxiety that she developed, also, melted away with marijuana.

Studies have shown that cannabis can help to slow the spread of cancer, and even shrink the size of tumors. For Stacey, the physical benefits experienced were life changing, but it was the improvements in her mental state, experienced from smoking marijuana, that gave her the strength to keep fighting for her life. Today, Stacey is in remission.

Below are before and after photos of Stacey Hutflies.

photo credit: Federacion de asociaciones cannabicas, KRCR 7

Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Implementation Postponed

Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Implementation Postponed

The launch of the medical marijuana program in Maryland has been pushed back again. All program regulations were to be finalized by the September 15 deadline. Six weeks over due, the commission has delayed for at least one more week. The board will not meet again until November 13, so there will not be a final vote until next month.

More time is needed for the fifteen person team to carefully inspect and tailor program regulations. This time, the commission realized that it had not included any form of marijuana concentrate or extract. Without those important forms of medicine, patients would have only been permitted to medicate by smoking dried marijuana flowers. It is important to include other forms in the regulations because many patients are not able to smoke for medical reasons or preference.

The commission was also criticized for hefty fees that would be required for producer and retailer application and licensing. In the first draft, medical marijuana growers would be responsible for paying a $6,000 non-refundable application fee on top of $250,000 for licensing every two years once the application is approved. There are fifteen grower licenses available. Medical marijuana dispensary licensing fees total $40,000 per year with a $5,000 non-refundable application fee up front. There will be up to ninety-four dispensary licenses available. Patients would be required to pay $100 for a medical marijuana patient identification card on top of the cost of medicine. These licensing fees are also to be revised by the commission before regulations are finalized.

Earlier this month, decriminalization went into effect for posession of up to ten grams of usable marijuana, so at least patients who are able to find medication on the black market do not need to worry about being arrested. Unfortunately, not all patients are able to find a steady source of medication, and those who cannot are waiting anxiously for the state licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to open doors of operation.

photo credit: Marylandciminallawyer

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