Posted: Sep 28, 2012 5:31 PM by Lindsey Gordon - MTN News
Updated: Sep 29, 2012 1:21 PM
HELENA - Former Montana Cannabis partner Chris Williams was found guilty on eight felonies related to marijuana distribution and firearms, earlier this week and medical marijuana advocates are unhappy.
Chris Lindsey, who used to work with Williams and now works for the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, has already pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to maintain drug-related premises. He called Williams' verdict a tragedy.
"We were trying to comply with state law, [we] thought we were, but the federal government of course has not changed its position on marijuana and they don't really care that it's medical marijuana," Lindsey said.
Lindsey said it comes down to a fundamental difference between what the people want and what the government wants.
"Most Americans believe that medical marijuana should have its role, and how do we reconcile that with the fact that the federal government absolutely refuses to acknowledge publicly that marijuana has any role?" he said.
Lindsey said when the state legislature revised the medical marijuana initiative passed by voters, it deliberately created an unworkable system. He said people who want to legally use medical marijuana are having a tough time.
Medical marijuana advocacy organization Montana First's spokesman, Bob Brigham, said, "One thing is crystal clear: our nation's failed so-called 'war on drugs' must end, particularly where medical marijuana is concerned in states whose voters and legislators have endorsed it."
Meanwhile, sentencing isn't yet scheduled for Chris Williams on his federal charges which include the manufacturing, possession, and distribution of marijuana. Other charges included the possession of firearms that the federal government says were used in drug trafficking and for protection of the drugs.
As a Montana Cannabis partner, Williams was the farmer of at least 1,800 marijuana plants that were being grown and cultivated for sale at the former state nursery in Helena when it was raided by federal drug agents in March of 2011.
According to Williams, who testified on his own behalf, he and his partners, Tom Daubert and Chris Lindsey, who also testified, thought they were operating under the state Medical Marijuana Act, making their operation legitimate.
But because federal law supersedes state law, and they are being tried in a federal court, the jury wasn't allowed to hear the state issue.
Williams' attorney Mike Donahoe said that he plans to file an appeal.