A Black Iraq Vet With PTSD Was Imprisoned For Medical Marijuana

Here’s How You Can Support Him

If marijuana is embraced by the medical community for its supposed ability to relieve physical pain and stress, then you’d think a war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder would be a perfect candidate for the plant’s approval. But one real scenario from 2016 showed that the anti-pot mentality is strong enough to let lives be destroyed – even lives that belong to people who have served their country.

Sean Worsley is a Black Iraq War veteran who resided in Arizona at the time of what would be a life-altering incident. Worsley, now 33, stopped at a gas station in Alabama with his wife, Eboni. They were reportedly on their way to help Worsley’s grandmother rebuild her home, which had been destroyed by a hurricane.

Alabama police officer Carl Abramo heard loud music from their vehicle and stopped them to inform them that they could be violating a local noise ordinance.

What could have been a simple warning snowballed into something else?

According to a police report, the officer observed “a black male get out of his passenger-side vehicle,” while “laughing and joking around and looking at the driver while doing all of this.”

He was performing an air guitar routine as a joke.

Abramo smelled cannabis as he approached the vehicle, and there’s a reason why: Worsley is a legal recipient of medical marijuana. He was given a prescription by an Arizona physician to treat PTSD symptoms (like nightmares), back pain, and symptoms from a brain injury that had occurred while Worsley served in the military.

According to Ellis English, who was deployed with Worsley, their experience in Iraq was harrowing:

“We watched people die. We watched helicopters shoot people down [and] had to go pick up the bodies.”

Worsley’s prescription was legally prescribed, so you’d think that he couldn’t face arrest. But there is a catch. Medical cannabis has been legal in Worsley’s home state, Arizona, since 2011, but it is not legal in Alabama.  A first-time cannabis possession charge in Alabama would usually only qualify for a misdemeanor, but police can upgrade the charge to a felony if they believe the substance is used for a purpose that is not simply “personal use.”

Thus, the couple was charged, and both spent nearly a week in jail before being released on bond.

How Matters Went From Bad To Worse

Due to a series of events that followed the couple’s initial arrest, Worsley is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. Their bond was revoked after a year, and Eboni informed the police that Worsley would need a legally indicated guardian present during legal matters due to his brain injury. According to Eboni, this was not respected:

“They said no, and they literally locked me in a room separate from him. They told him that if he didn’t sign the plea agreement that we would have to stay incarcerated until December and that they would charge me with the same charges as they charged him.”

The plea deal included 60 months of probation plus fines and drug treatment.

The couple was faced with horrible financial turmoil due to the ordeal, as they would have to move to keep up with treatment. Plus, the felony charge made it harder to gain employment, and Eboni would eventually need heart surgery. The couple became homeless.

In 2020, during one of many efforts to get his life back on track, Sean was stopped again by police who smelled cannabis. According to the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice, Worsley has been in jail since.

How You Can Help

This summer, Eboni started a GoFundMe page, further detailing Sean’s story in the fundraiser’s description. The page, asking for assistance with legal funds, has raised nearly $100,000, has been a hub for support.

“The incredible amount of support and solidarity showed by so many Amazing human beings has been such a comfort and restoration of hope.”

Supporters have not only donated money but have sent postcards to Worsley, indicating that they hope his circumstances turn around.