Today we learned that Montana medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert was able to negotiate a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Daubert is the founder of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He was influential in the drafting of I-148, the initiative that Montana voters approved overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2004. Daubert was also a one of a handful of partners in Montana Cannabis, one of several caregivers who were raided in March of 2011. Others involved in Montana Cannabis have not been quite so fortunate as they were recently indicted on multiple federal counts of conspiracy, cultivation, and gun charges. According to news reports, Daubert has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises”. Unlike the charges Daubert’s former partners are facing, his doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence. Recent federal cases have indicated that this is an increasingly common charge by the feds- especially when cases against the accused are relatively weak and built primarily on circumstantial evidence.
Montana’s indicted cannabis caregivers have accepted plea deals featuring significant charge and sentence reductions (most sentences range from 6 – 18 months in federal prison) although they were also subject to massive asset forfeitures and additional fines. So far though, it appears nearly everyone has been negotiating with the feds, but what happens to those who refuse the plea deals?
Take, for instance; Chris Lindsey. He is a soft-spoken, educated, non-violent intellectual. He is a husband and a father to a young son. Lindsey, a Missoula attorney, served as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis (yes, Tom Daubert’s company) for less than a year. He left the company a full fourteen months before the March 2011 raids that preceded these federal indictments. He was indicted last week on a long list of federal conspiracy, drug, and gun charges. The guns weren’t his. He wasn’t a drug dealer and as far as conspiracy goes, well, I suppose I’m breaking some of those federal statutes simply by writing this post. Chris has built his legal practice around helping Montana’s medical marijuana patients adhere to state law. He has not been accused of breaking any of Montana’s statutes and yet he is unable legally to use his clear compliance with state law in his federal defense. He says he can’t accept a plea deal on something he believes in. So what does that mean for Chris? Brace yourself.
Mandatory minimums on his charges amass sentences of 690 years in federal prison. Maximum sentences are 25 consecutive life terms plus an additional 85 years. What purpose do we serve by incarcerating a productive professional with no history of criminal activity- someone who has never been accused of any sort of violence? This is a travesty of epic proportions. Keep in mind that there is no parole in federal prison and that convicts must serve 85% of their sentences. Doesn’t this make you wonder why those who make a deal (thus maintaining frightening and artificially high federal conviction rates ) are criminals who upon acceptance of a plea deal, are instantly benign enough to warrant sentences averaging one year yet those who value their principles enough to defend them in a court of law are scary enough for consecutive life sentences?
Our state government allows this injustice, without so much as a complaint. While politicians from other states protest the federal crackdown medical marijuana, those from Montana are silent. Montana politicians typically claim to exhibit a sort of libertarian-streak that is native to our people- people who just want to be left alone. In reality however, our politicians are pussies. Nearly every one of them. They are too worried about being reelected to actually take a stand to protect the very people who elected them. From our Congressional delegation to our local sheriffs, Montana politicians LOVE federal intervention on marijuana cases. In fact, instead of actually working with our existing state law, state law enforcement often refused to prosecute those in defiance of the law in order to set up a repeal of I-148 in our last legislative session. Rumor has it, to ensure a repeal, our elected officials even worked with federal agents to schedule a key legislative vote simultaneously with dramatic federal raids taking place in the state capital, as well as cities across the state. On one Republican state representative’s Facebook page, he declared immediately after the raids “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds”. I guess these faux Libertarian-minded Montanans believe they can deal with everything on the state level- healthcare, wolves, guns- everything but the “scourge of Montana” (yes, another state legislator called it that), marijuana.
Our governor, Brian Schweitzer, did absolutely nothing to protect Montanans from federal intervention. Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester are fighting for Tester’s US Senate seat. Conveniently, neither of them have stood up to federal medical marijuana intervention. Max Baucus recently announced his intent to run for reelection in 2014- has he taken a stand? Nope. Our attorney general, Steve Bullock, who has continuously opposed legislation as well as legal maneuvers designed to protect patients, now wants to be our governor. Nearly all of the prohibitionists in our state legislature are running for either reelection or election to yet another state office. If our state governments refuse to protect us from the tyrannical federal government by use of the “supremacy clause” and a disgustingly broad interpretation of the commerce clause via Raich v Gonzales, what is the point of having state governments at all?
As we head farther into campaign season, let me remind you all that politicians are the biggest criminals alive. We reward them with our votes and pay them healthy salaries with our taxes. We subsidize the failed war on drugs by allowing our government to perpetuate violent crime on our borders in the name of security. I am BEGGING you all, please do NOT disappoint me. Get your asses out June 5 in primary elections and don’t you DARE neglect to vote in the general election November 6. I do not feel safer with Chris Lindsey behind bars- or Tom Daubert, for that matter, do you?
Montana’s politicians are vacillating, submissive cowards and it is high time for some outrage from Montana’s citizens, this is embarrassing.
- Medical Pot Pits States vs Feds (abcnews.go.com)
- U.S. Supreme Court: State Medical Marijuana Laws Not Preempted by Federal Law (txconnectme.wordpress.com)
- Montana Jury Stages ‘Mutiny’ In Marijuana Case (worldwright.wordpress.com)
- When It Comes To Marijuana Prohibition, The April Fool’s Day Joke Is On Us (whengovernmentfailsinkentucky.wordpress.com)