Montana Cannabis' Chris Williams Sentenced to 5 Years

Montana Cannabis' Chris Williams Sentenced to 5 Years

MISSOULA, MT — Montana medical marijuana cultivator Chris Williams was sentenced Friday to a mandatory minimum 5 years in prison on federal gun charges, and time-served on federal drug charges in what has become a widely publicized case, illustrating the Obama Administration’s aggressive federal enforcement policies in medical marijuana states.

Prosecutors had requested Williams sentenced to ten years, following Assistant US Attorney Joseph Thaggard’s recommendation that Williams serve consecutive five-year sentences for each of the two charges he pleaded guilty to.

Williams was facing 5 years to life in federal prison.  Convicted of 8 felonies in a September trial, he was facing more than 80 years of mandatory minimums before being offered a rare post-trial plea deal in exchange for his promise not to appeal his conviction.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen accepted the recommendation of Chris Williams’ attorney on Friday and sentenced the former Helena marijuana provider to time served on a drug charge and five years for a weapons charge.

Williams was arrested with numerous others after aggressive SWAT-style raids conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in March 2011. On a single day, the DEA executed 26 separate search warrants across Montana, which not only represented a reversal of the Obama Administration’s policy on medical marijuana, but was also a thinly-veiled attempt to undermine state legislative efforts aimed at adopting distribution regulations.

Soon after the raids, the Montana legislature passed a bill to completely repeal its medical marijuana law, which was later vetoed by then-Governor Schweitzer.

“It’s cases like this that make you wonder why the federal government sees fit to aggressively prosecute medical marijuana cultivators and distributors in full compliance with state law,” said Kris Hermes, spokesperson with Americans for Safe Access.

Protesters shout 'Free Chris Williams' in advance of the med marijuana advocate's sentencing on federal drug charges on  Feb. 1, 2013. (@copsandcourts)

Protesters shout ‘Free Chris Williams’ in advance of the med marijuana advocate’s sentencing on federal drug charges on Feb. 1, 2013. (Twitter/copsandcourts)

“The Obama Administration is lying to the American people when it says it’s not targeting individual patients and these cases are clear evidence of that.” Fellow Montana cultivator andmedical marijuana patient Richard Flor died in August while serving out a 5-year prison sentence after being prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Several medical marijuana cultivators and distributors from Montana have been convicted and sentenced over the past few months. Richard Flor’s widow, Sherry Flor, was arrested with her husband and is now serving a 2-year prison sentence.

Medical marijuana patient, cultivator and former University of Montana Grizzlies quarterback Jason Washington was convicted two weeks ago in federal court of two felonies, “conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana” and “possession with intent to distribute marijuana,” despite his claims to be in full compliance with state law.

Because federal law does not recognize medical marijuana as such, defendants like Williams and Washington are denied a defense in federal court. Washington is facing up to 40 years in prison, and more than $10 million in fines and forfeitures.

A White House petition requesting a Presidential Pardon for Williams collected nearly 30,000 signatures last year, but the Obama Administration refused to comment on the case.

The case against Williams drew the attention of Emmy Award nominated filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen, who is working on a documentary, “Code of the West,” which covers the story of Williams and others caught up in the Obama Administration’s attacks on medical marijuana.

Far surpassing his predecessor George W. Bush, President Obama has conducted more than 200 SWAT-style raids on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses and has indicted more than 80 people since he took office. “How many medical marijuana patients is President Obama going to imprison before he considers other, more humane options,” said Hermes. “The president must answer for why he’s going against his earlier pledges by spending Justice Department funds in this way.”

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  • our4th

    Chris Williams’ defense was Montana’s medical marijuana law. Whose fault was it that he does not know what his basic fundamental rights are as he heads off to prison for political reasons.

    Marijuana remains illegal because the judiciary has determine the constitutionality of the marijuana laws by rational basis. Rational basis is used when no fundamental rights have been declared injured by the defendant from the enforcement of the law.

    Since 1965, Twenty two million+ persons in the United States have been arrested or summoned to court for violating the marijuana laws. Twenty two million who had standing to question the reasonableness of the marijuana laws.

    lawshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._cannabis_arrests_by_year.gif.

    We have been deprived of our fundamental rights to liberty and property by the enforcement of the marijuana laws. Why has this fact been ignored by the lawyers from the ACLU, NORML et al. Criminal laws presents a justiciable controversy under Article III of the Constitution because of actual injury to fundamental rights. Being arrested and going to prison is deprivation of liberty.

    Due process of law requires the deprivation of fundamental rights to be justified by a compelling state interest to use state police power. Police power is reasonable and necessary when it is used to protect public safety.

    Criminalizing marijuana is unreasonable and unnecessary because the private use of marijuana does not threaten the rights of others. There is no victim of a crime. The rights of marijuana users to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures has been violated. Marijuana users have been deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law. Rational review of criminal laws is deprivation of rights under the color of law.

    Does Mr. Williams’ lawyer believe Chris is a non person and not entitled to equal protection of Amendments IV and V? Try Declaratory Judgment Chris. Just make sure you claim the law deprived you of your right to liberty to question the reasonableness of the marijuana laws you were convicted of.

     

    Michael Dee

    http://www.ursm.us

    786 Roosevelt Trail

    Windham, Maine 04062

    207-893-0287

    We have been deprived of our fundamental rights to liberty and property by the enforcement of the marijuana laws. Why has this fact been ignored by the lawyers from the ACLU, NORML et al. Criminal laws presents a justiciable controversy under Article III of the Constitution because of actual injury to fundamental rights. Being arrested and going to prison is deprivation of liberty.

    Due process of law requires the deprivation of fundamental rights to be justified by a compelling state interest to use state police power. Police power is reasonable and necessary when it is used to protect public safety.

    Criminalizing marijuana is unreasonable and unnecessary because the private use of marijuana does not threaten the rights of others. There is no victim of a crime. The rights of marijuana users to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures has been violated. Marijuana users have been deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law. Rational review of criminal laws is deprivation of rights under the color of law.

    Does Mr. Williams’ lawyer believe Chris is a non person and not entitled to equal protection of Amendments IV and V? Try Declaratory Judgment Chris. Just make sure you claim the law deprived you of your right to liberty to question the reasonableness of the marijuana laws you were convicted of.

     

    Michael Dee

    http://www.ursm.us

    786 Roosevelt Trail

    Windham, Maine 04062

    207-893-0287

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KVFJXK3HIU2T4PMXDOEKVAZ744 DUKE

    look at how they have you by the balls give you a deal and in the deal because they have your nuts so tight you agree too give up your due rights as a american citizen and part of the deal was to sign away his right to appeal. that’s a crock of shit. we need a re-structured justice system

  • searching4truth

    I never see it discussed why certain people are picked out for prosecution. I can only think of two reasons. They are selling off excess inventory illegally or the person paid off to get the license wanted to re-negotiate the deal and the grower refused. All growers and dispensaries are easy targets to the Feds. So what determines which ones they go after. There is more to these stories than we are being told.