Two former sheriff’s deputies in Alabama say their boss fired them last year because they refused to hand him marijuana locked up in the evidence room.
The deputies, who worked for Winston County Sheriff Hobby Walker, say Walker asked them to provide cannabis from evidence so he could give it to his dying aunt. Marijuana is illegal for any use in Alabama, although limited clinical trials of non-intoxicating CBD oil have been approved. Unlike other states with CBD laws, Alabama does not currently allow patients access to the drug.
When they refused, the deputies allege, Walker fired them. They are now suing him, the department, and the Winston County Commission for wrongful termination, alleging Walker retaliated against them.
Sheriff repeatedly requested marijuana from evidence rooms
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 13, claims that Walker asked former deputies Steven Moody and Zak Green for marijuana several times. The drug was stored in secure lockers in the evidence room, and Walker presumably did not have access to the room on his own authority. Walker’s aunt was reportedly dying of cancer at the time.
The demands allegedly started in May 2015 after Green seized cannabis during a local raid. Walker took some of the pot, put it in a drawer, and asked for more, according to the lawsuit.
“Sheriff Walker advised that it was not for himself but for his aunt that was dying of cancer and needed the marijuana to help her with her appetite,” the suit says.
The requests for marijuana kept coming, the deputies said. When that method proved unreliable, the sheriff allegedly tried to get his hands on more cannabis by skimming it from eradication projects, but found that approach difficult, too.
Deputies reported the matter to the authorities
Moody and Green say they eventually reported the matter to authorities, and were “instructed by an outside agency” to give the sheriff cannabis one last time in September. It wasn’t clear from published reports whether the delivery was part of a sting, but the FBI, the Alabama attorney general’s office, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency have all reportedly showed interest in the case. None were willing to confirm an investigation as of late January.
“Consistent with agency policy, ALEA’s State Bureau of Investigation does not discuss possible criminal investigations or special inquiries,” said Senior Trooper Johnathan Appling of the Law Enforcement Agency,
Green and Moody were both fired Nov. 30, and they say the timing lines up with Walker’s attempts to get marijuana from them. Walker remains in office, and no charges have been filed against him or anyone else, though any investigation could take months to unfold. The two deputies gave local media access to audio recordings they say document Walker’s illegal search for cannabis.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Walker and his aunt. In a better world, not even his position as a sheriff would stop him from getting his loved ones the treatment they need.
But like other drug warriors, he took a stand on one side of that line, and he can’t cross to the other side without being a hypocrite and a criminal. It’s a settled moral rule that if you want to pursue prohibition as a policy, you don’t also get to smoke up on the side.