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Disabled Veteran Sentenced to Prison Time in Alabama for Legally-Obtained Cannabis

Sean Worsley was initially stopped by the police for playing his music too loudly.

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Disabled Veteran Sentenced To Prison Time In Alabama For Legally-Obtained Cannabis

At a time when America is trying to right its wrongs when it comes to the treatment of people of color and the war on drugs over the past few centuries, a Black, disabled veteran is still being held in prison on minor cannabis charges.

Sean Worsley, an Iraq veteran who suffers from a traumatic brain injury and PTSD, uses medical cannabis for his pain and anxiety. He legally purchased the medicine in his home state of Arizona before his arrest.

Worsley and his wife, Eboni, were arrested in Pickens County, Alabama, where cannabis is still not legal, back in August 2016. This took place when the couple stopped at a gas station and were approached by police officers for listening to music “too loudly”. The police then proceeded to search the vehicle where they found Worsley’s medical cannabis.

“I explained to him that Alabama did not have medical marijuana. I then placed the suspect in handcuffs,” the arresting officers stated in an official report.

In addition to the cannabis, the officers found some unopened alcohol and prescribed pills—all legal. However, the pills were not in their original bottle, which the officers claimed was a felony. The Worsleys spent six days in jail and then faced even more criminal proceedings.

The couple, originally from Arizona, then moved to Nevada, but they got a call a year after the incident explaining that bail bonds were revoked on their case and they had to go back to Alabama or be charged with failing to appear in court. Worsley, who is reportedly not able to make informed decisions on his own due to his disability, was convinced that he had to sign a plea agreement…or he and his wife would face jail time.

Worsley was then sentenced to 60 months in prison.

Alabama, Prison, And Cannabis

There are currently only about 60 or 70 people in the Alabama prison system for cannabis, and those are usually more serious trafficking charges. Because of this, many people are beginning to speak out in Worsley’s defense.

“They got arrested for a whole truckload, semi-truckloads even, for trafficking,” State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster claims of the other people currently serving time in prison.

In a letter to Alabama Appleseed, written as he serves time in the Pickens County jail, Worsley expressed how upset he is being away from his wife and children, and how humiliated he is having to call them from prison.

“I feel like I’m being thrown away by a country I went and served for,” Worsley wrote in a letter to Alabama Appleseed. “I feel like I lost parts of me in Iraq, parts of my spirit and soul that I can’t ever get back.”

This is clearly not the first (or last) cannabis charge involving a Black man or veteran that needs to be addressed, but the fact that it is now gaining more public attention may help lessen Worsley’s sentence and bring awareness to the issue of the intersection between racial justice and cannabis justice.

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Strain of the Week: Midnite

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Whoever first said that “nothing good happens after midnight” clearly was not enjoying life. Maybe it was said to perpetuate safety, specifically toward rambunctious youth who went gallivanting around in the forest at night. Or maybe it was more geared toward superstitious beliefs about witches or paranormal entities who roam around when the sun goes down. Either way, whoever said it definitely hadn’t seen a Gremlins movie, which contrary to the plot which warns against feeding a Gremlin at night, is one of the weirdest and best 1980s movies ever (change our mind). Ultimately though, cannabis after midnight can be a treat, especially when it’s a strain like Midnite.

Midnite is a cross between Bubba Kush and Chem #4. Bubba Kush is well-known for its earthiness, deep pine aroma and ability to induce sleep (not to mention that, as reviewers put it, it’s so widely loved that consuming it is often like “greeting an old friend at the airport”). Chem #4, which is also short for Chemdog/Chemdawg, is a zesty hybrid, complete with scents and flavors of lemon, that delivers full body effects of relaxation and euphoria. Between these two powerhouse strains create a unique strain child that’s full of potential.

Described as light green and denser than a dogwood tree, Midnite strain samples were absolutely covered in frosty trichomes—so much that it almost seemed like it was covered in freshly fallen snow, or even might glow when placed in a dark place. Surprisingly, the bud didn’t have much of a scent until it was ground up, revealing a potent chemmy aroma that made our seasoned reviewers salivate. Upon inhalation, the flower was robust but not harsh, leading to full body relaxation that didn’t feel lethargic. It won’t stop anyone from getting a full night’s sleep when ready to crash, however, and the rest of its qualities were deep and relaxing.

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Virginia to Focus on Legal Cannabis in 2021 Legislative Session

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Some legislators in Virginia are planning on pushing for support to consider recreational cannabis this year.

The 2021 legislative session in Virginia, which began on January 13, will be conducted remotely as the pandemic continues to be a major concern. The state’s House of Delegates will be meeting entirely remotely, and the Vermont Senate will meet at a conference center instead of at the state capitol building.

To start off this year’s legislative session, there are multiple topics on the table for discussion, including COVID-19 relief and the death penalty repeal. But perhaps the most contentious issue of all is the discussion of recreational cannabis legalization.

During this legislative push, Governor Ralph Northam is once again making it known that he would like to see recreational cannabis legalized. If Virginia legislators make a move, they will be the first Southern state to fully legalize cannabis. Currently, the state only allows medical cannabis, which went into effect on July 1, 2020.

Northam, who has been speaking out in favor of recreational legalization since November 2020, would like to see a legal approach that makes sure youth safety is high priority and also prioritizes the struggle of marginalized people disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.

The success of this push for legalization will hinge on whether or not there are enough votes in the legislature in favor of legal cannabis for it to pass. However, even Republicans are coming around to cannabis issues in many states, and Virginia has successfully decriminalized cannabis and legalized a medical program.

Despite the fact that the state has already laid the groundwork for full, recreational legalization, it remains to be seen whether Virginia will follow through and successfully legalize cannabis this year.

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WSU Study Finds Cannabis May Diminish Stress Response

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A new study from Washington State University (WSU) has found that cannabis may diminish a user’s physiological response to stress.

Researchers found female rats that self-administered daily puffs of cannabis vapor for a month had lower blood levels of a hormone that causes stress when presented with a stressful situation than they did at the beginning of the experiment and compared to a control group. The rats were trained to trigger an infrared sensor that would activate a puff of cannabis vapor anytime they felt the urge. Previous studies have shown cannabis could have an effect on stress response.

After 30 days, only female rats that had access to the cannabis had a significantly muted response to stress. The rats that were given access to cannabis also tended to respond more for the substance and had higher concentrations in their blood after the experiment. Male rats did not experience the same results, but they also self-administered a lot less.  

“We don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing and there’s reason to argue for either of them at this point—a blunted stress response might actually predispose some people to certain mental health conditions is our concern,” said co-author of the study and WSU assistant professor of psychology, Carrie Cuttler. “So yeah, it sounds great on the surface that maybe they’re less prone to stress…but the stress response is an important system that exists for a reason—any alterations in that or perturbations in that system may or may not be a good thing.”

WSU assistant professor and another co-author of the study, Ryan McClain, mentioned there are ethical and legal concerns with testing stress responses on humans, as well as administering cannabis to some of the human participants, so these kinds of studies are limited to animal models.

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