An Oregon medical marijuana patient who faced 40 years in a Mississippi prison for drug trafficking cannabis he purchased legally has been re-sentenced and could be paroled in three years. Patrick Beadle, 46, was sentenced in October to serve eight years in prison without the possibility of parole. However, last month he was allowed by Madison County Circuit Judge William Chapman, who has since retired, to plead guilty to simple possession and the original conviction was set aside. Beadle was then sentenced to 12 years in prison but will be eligible for parole after three years. At the sentencing hearing last year, Chapman had refused to reduce the conviction and said that Beadle could be sentenced to up to 40 years in the penitentiary.
“My client didn’t want to roll the dice on an appeal since he was facing eight years in prison day for day,” said Cynthia Stewart, one of Beadle’s attorneys.
Stewart said that Chapman and prosecutors agreed to vacate the drug trafficking conviction and allow Beadle to plead guilty to the lesser charge before the judge retired in January. She believes that because Beadle is a first-time offender, he has a good chance of being granted parole by the Mississippi Department of Corrections and released early. Beadle is serving his sentence at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County.
Racial Profiling Alleged in Case
In March 2017, Jamaican-born Beadle was driving through Mississippi when he was pulled over by police for crossing a lane line, “a useful pretext for police who are racial profiling,” according to the ACLU. Police then searched Beadle’s car, claiming they smelled marijuana, and found 2.89 pounds of cannabis wrapped in three plastic packages. Because of the amount of cannabis discovered, Beadle was charged with a drug trafficking charge, although prosecutors admitted they had no evidence that showed he intended to sell the cannabis or transfer it to anyone.
Beadle, a Rastafarian musician who performs under the name BlackFire, is a registered medical marijuana patient in Oregon. He said that he purchased the cannabis there legally and that it was for his personal use. However, he was tried and convicted by an all-white jury after deliberating for only 25 minutes.
Beadle believes that he is a victim of racial profiling by law enforcement, which the ACLU says is rampant in Madison County. The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against the county last year, claiming blacks are regularly subjected to illegal search and seizure. Attorney Randy Harris, who represented Beadle at trial, said that people of color are an easy target for biased law enforcement officers.
“And here’s Patrick Beadle from Oregon, and he’s driven his Jeep all the way from Oregon, apparently without incident because he made it here,” Harris said. “And he ain’t in Madison County five seconds when he’s chased down and brutalized” by police.