Disabled Iraqi war veteran jailed for possession of medical marijuana gets parole

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Disabled Iraq War veteran Sean Worsley, who was arrested while driving in Pickens County in 2016 and charged with criminal possession of legally prescribed medical marijuana in his home state of Arizona, has was granted parole by the Alabama Pardons and Parole Board on Wednesday after being in jail for more than eight months.

With illegal marijuana in Alabama, Worsley, a recipient of Purple Heart, was sentenced to five years in prison. On September 23, he was transferred from the Pickens County Jail to the Draper Correctional Facility.

Parole was granted with special conditions – that Worsley undergo a drug test upon his release.

“I’m so excited,” his wife Eboni said. “Now we are waiting to find out when he will be released physically and we can start living again.”

Eboni received the news Wednesday afternoon while on the phone with Worsley’s mother, who was scanning the parole hearing minutes. She said, ‘They granted it! “” shared Eboni.

She immediately called Worsley and relayed the news to him.

“He was so relieved he almost cried,” Eboni said. “I said to him, ‘Bless God and give him glory, give thanks. “

Worsley, 34, suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and head trauma. He has seizures, suffers from chronic back and shoulder pain, struggles with nightmares and sleep disturbances. [his] service-related disabilities ”.

Sean and Eboni were crossing our state on Route 82 on their way to surprise relatives in North Carolina, including Sean’s young son. They had deer feet in the trunk, beer, and a special vodka for Eboni’s father. They were also going to see Sean’s grandmother’s house in Tarboro, North Carolina, which was flooded during Hurricane Matthew.

The couple stopped for gas in Gordo, just outside Tuscaloosa. It was about 11 p.m. They caught the attention (and the ear) of a local police officer, Carl Abramo, as Sean, in a good mood that day, stepped out of the passenger side and started playing air guitar. too loud music from the car. “He was laughing and joking and staring at the driver while doing all of this,” read the police report, obtained by Alabama Appleseed.

Abramo, who is white, said the loud music violated a local noise ordinance. He also smelled marijuana and asked to search the car, according to news reports.

Worsley, who is Black, asked Eboni to turn the music down. He said yes. He told Abramo he was a disabled veteran and showed the officer the medical card for the various strains of marijuana kept in several small containers in the car.

Abramo arrested the Worsleys and struck them on several counts, some simply because they had alcohol in their possession; Unfortunately, Pickens County is still mostly dry. The officer also found rolling papers and a scale. Not unusual; Usually, medical marijuana users measure uses. Yet rather than being charged with misdemeanors as first-time marijuana offenders, Sean and Eboni were charged with a felony because, well, our state’s police officers have the discretion to do so if they do. think the drug is for “other than personal use.” . “

Abramo did it.

So began the nightmare.

The Worsleys were released on bail and returned to Arizona. One year, however, the link was inexplicably revoked, and Sean and Eboni had to drive frantically overnight to avoid being charged with not appearing in court.

After the couple were separated and questioned separately, Sean signed a plea agreement (60 hours of probation, drug treatment and $ 3,388.40 in fines and costs) to have all charges against Eboni dropped. . Two years later, however, the Worsleys’ life was stuck in a Byzantine path. Sean’s brain injury affected his short-term memory; he endured episodes of depression, back pain and shoulder pain. In 2015, the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA), Appleseed.org said he needed a caregiver because of his impulsivity, cognitive issues, and other issues. Eboni, whom he married in 2012, was that caregiver.

In early 2019, the Worsley, Arizona probation officer cited him for “failure to appear” or “payment of court-ordered amounts.” He couldn’t afford the $ 250 to renew the medical marijuana card. In Alabama, a felony arrest warrant had been issued against him for inadvertently missing a court date in Pickens County. The tenure prompted VA to cut Sean’s benefits.

Earlier this year, in Arizona, Sean was arrested during a routine traffic stop. He nervously spoke to the officer about the medical marijuana in his possession, his PTSD and other medical issues, his expired card and the warrant. When police contacted Alabama, the state ordered Worsley’s extradition, at a cost of $ 4,345.

Upon his return, Worsley was incarcerated.

“My faith in THE MOST HIGH was further strengthened in demonstrating how the law works in Alabama to help and not harm people through the parole board,” Eboni said. “We are grateful that we can pick up the pieces and start rebuilding our lives once Sean is released. I am so grateful to the Alabama Parole Board for showing the public the heart of the warm and welcoming spirit of the people. whom I have encountered since my transition to Alabama.

A GoFundMe site has been set up for the Worsleys, who have moved to the Birmingham area.

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