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October 19, 2018

Rastafarian musician gets eight-year sentence after being found with 2.89 pounds of marijuana in car

I sometimes see reporters and others suggest that personal marijuana possession and use has already become essentially de facto legal throughout the country.  This story of a sentencing in Mississippi this week, headlined "Jamaican-born musician sentenced to 8 years in prison for marijuana he legally obtained," puts the lie to this suggestion. Here are the details:

A Jamaican-born musician convicted of drug trafficking in Madison County for marijuana he said he obtained legally in Oregon for his personal use received an eight-year prison sentence without parole Monday. Madison County Circuit Judge William Chapman said Patrick Beadle, 46, of Oregon, faced a maximum 40 years in prison after a jury convicted him in July under the state's drug trafficking law.

Beadle, who performs under the name BlackFire, was charged with drug trafficking, although he said the marijuana he had with him was for his personal use and was obtained legally in Oregon where medical marijuana was legalized in 1998. Oregon voters approved recreational use of marijuana in 2014. Prosecutors admitted there was no evidence to prove Beadle was trafficking in drugs other than the amount of marijuana, 2.89 pounds, and that it was concealed in his vehicle.

Chapman departed from giving Beadle the 10 to 40 years under the drug trafficking law, but he wouldn't reduce it to simple possession because he said the jury convicted Beadle under the drug trafficking law. Chapman said Beadle would have to serve the eight year sentence day-for-day since the law doesn't allow for parole or probation....

Patrick Beadle said he has a medical marijuana card from Oregon to treat chronic pain in both knees where cartilage has worn down from his years of playing college basketball. Marijuana use is also common among Rastafarians.

Beadle said he was traveling March 8, 2017, southbound on I-55 after entering Madison County and at about 10 a.m., he was pulled over on I-55 near Canton by a Madison County deputy for the alleged traffic violation of crossing over the fog line, the painted line on the side of a roadway. He disputes the deputy's assertion that he crossed over the fog line. He said his dreadlocks and out-of-state auto tag made him a target for racial profiling....

In the Beadle case, then-Deputy Joseph Mangino found no large sums of money, drug paraphernalia or weight measuring scale to substantiate the trafficking charge. "This is not the typical defendant you see. "He is not a drug dealer," said Randy Harris, who was Beadle's trial attorney.

This lengthy (pre-sentencing) article from another local paper provides a few more details and some context about this disconcerting case:

Beadle was southbound on I-55 and had crossed from Yazoo into Madison County. A few seconds later, a Madison County sheriff’s deputy pulled him over.  A search of Beadle’s car revealed 2.8 pounds of marijuana.

Following a trial in July, a jury took 25 minutes to find him guilty of charges that could land him in prison for up to 40 years without parole.  Beadle, who is African American, and his allies say the fact that he was pulled over is a clear case of racial profiling while law enforcement officials maintain that a traffic violation led to the stop....

In Madison County, drug dispositions between 2013 and 2017 -- that is, drug charges settled in those years -- neared 1,000, based on data provided by the Administrative Office of Courts. Of those total charges, only two people were found guilty by a jury as Beadle was, Mississippi Today found.  Out of all the drug dispositions, about three in five were faced by African Americans.

That discrepancy goes up when looking only at guilty pleas.  The majority of defendants pled guilty to over 600 charges in Madison County during that timeframe. About 66 percent of those individuals were black -- though black people make up only 38 percent of the county’s population -- while 32 percent were white.

October 19, 2018 at 08:10 AM | Permalink


Cannabis prohibition is a ridiculous waste of police, court and taxpayer resources. Cannabis prohibition enforcement is mostly just cops looking for low-hanging fruit and soft targets while major crimes like murder, rape and assault go unsolved. Data from the Center for Disease Control proves that cannabis is much safer than alcoholic beverages and tobacco products which are completely legal. Based on that fact alone cannabis should be completely legal. Cannabis prohibition wrongfully persecutes and criminalizes cannabis consumers for selecting a recreational substance that is MUCH safer than booze or cigarettes!

In the USA 9 states have fully legalized recreational cannabis including: Washington, Maine, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska plus Washington DC. Canada, Uruguay, Jamaica all completely legal for recreational cannabis!

31 states and counting have legalized “medical” cannabis!

Celebrate democracy at work with FREE states ending government corruption! Citizens demanding the return of their rights and their freedom!

The Madness is over, Legalize Recreational Cannabis Nationwide!

Posted by: Ben James | Oct 19, 2018 9:39:03 AM

At some quantity, the amount involved becomes inconsistent with "personal marijuana possession and use." The question is, what is that quantity? It seems the jury concluded that 2.89 kg, at least when combined with concealment, crossed that threshold to support a trafficking conviction.

I don't know what the answer should be, just that there has to be some quantity inconsistent with personal use only.

Posted by: Jason | Oct 19, 2018 11:59:44 AM

Is a fifth of Rum personal consumption? How about 1/2 gallon? What if I buy a 6-bottle case of 1/2 gallon bottles of rum because I get a case discount? Does the possession of three gallons of rum reasonably support the conclusion that I am trafficking? How about 1/2 barrel of beer (15.5 gallons) for my kegerator -- am I trafficking in beer. The point is that 6 pounds of weed is consistent with personal use as well as trafficking. Under such circumstances one could possibly infer trafficking but it is not proof of beyond a reasonable doubt of trafficking. Concealment is irrelevant in my book because concealment of your weed like concealment of cash is a good idea since it is readily fungible and a target of those who are in need. That said, why isn't his Oregon medical mj card being afforded full faith and credit by Mississippi?

Posted by: ? | Oct 19, 2018 2:52:26 PM

Hopefully, the governor will grant clemency after a year or so.

He's going to be deported though.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 19, 2018 6:43:48 PM

Rum doesn't go bad if not drank within a short period of time. 2.89 pounds is quite a bit combined with all other factors.

I do wonder if there's a RFRA claim for Rastafarians charged with Possession of Marijuana, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

Posted by: Erik M | Oct 22, 2018 1:45:04 PM

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