Patrick Steve Beadle of Oregon said he decided after having visited his 8-year-old son in Ohio to travel through Mississippi because of the state’s rich music heritage.
But the decision could end up sending the Jamaican-born musician and Rastafarian to prison for up to 40 years.
Beadle, who performs under the name BlackFire, was charged last year by Madison County 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.
In July, an all-white Madison County jury took less than an hour to convict Beadle of drug trafficking, his family said. He is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 24 before retiring Circuit Judge William Chapman.
Although marijuana is legal in Oregon, it isn’t legal in Mississippi.
Beadle, 46, doesn’t dispute possessing marijuana, but disputes that he was trafficking drugs.
Oregon allows a person to possess up to 4 pounds of medical marijuana.
The Madison County deputy who pulled Beadle over on Interstate 55 near Canton said Beadle had approximately 2.8 pounds of high-grade marijuana in three vacuum-sealed bags, which the deputy said is more than a person typically has for personal use.
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 by the deputy for the alleged traffic violation of crossing over the fog line, the painted line on the side of a roadway. Beadle 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.
Earlier this year, the ACLU of Mississippi and a New York-based law firm filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of black Madison County residents, accusing the Sheriff's Department of disproportionately stopping and searching black motorists.
The sheriff disputes the allegation, saying roadblocks are equally located in the southern part of the county where there is a greater white population.
The lawsuit is pending in federal court in Jackson.
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.
Mangino, who testified that he is now with the Pearl Police Department, falsely testified that he confessed, Beadle said.
Beadle said a Taser was used on him after he was stopped. He said he and his vehicle were searched without his consent. Mangino testified he smelled a strong odor of green marijuana when he approached Beadle’s Jeep, not the smell of smoked marijuana. He said Beadle wouldn’t follow his command to get out of the vehicle, leading to him using the Taser.
In addition to the drug charges, Mangino had initially filed charges of resisting arrest and careless driving against Beadle, but Mangino admitted on the witness stand that Beadle never resisted arrest after he was charged and handcuffed. Mangino said he dismissed the resisting arrest and careless driving charges.
Mangino denied that racial profiling caused him to stop Beadle.
Madison County Assistant District Attorney Todd McAlpin said in court that the marijuana was hidden in Beadle’s vehicle.
McAlpin said in closing arguments: “That marijuana was hidden in that vehicle to transport from somewhere, I don’t know where, to some other place."
But Beadle’s attorney, Randy Harris, argued that Madison County law enforcement and prosecutors had nothing more than the amount of pot for their premise that his client intended to distribute the marijuana.
Beadle’s mother, Tommy Beadle of Pensacola, said Beadle smokes marijuana, but has never trafficked in drugs.
Follow Jimmie E. Gates on Twitter: @jgatesnews