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Federal Judge to Decide if DOJ Can Prosecute a Montana Medical Marijuana Provider


In the last couple of decades since medical marijuana was first legalized in California, we’ve seen dispensary raids all over the country – people operating legally under state law are being prosecuted for what is still considered a crime at a federal level. While this went on for years before the lawmakers of the United States decided to step in – and finally there was at least one document put in place that is supposed to prevent the Department of Justice from pursuing those who are operating medical marijuana businesses, as long as they are in compliance with state laws.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this in a previous court case, and now a Montana medical marijuana provider is hoping that it will save him from being prosecuted by federal court. Jesse Walter Campbell is charged with conspiracy to traffic as well as possession of marijuana. DEA agents arrested him after obtaining a warrant based on information from an unnamed source, who claimed that Campbell was selling to him without a patient ID card and in larger quantities than Montana law allowed.

During the trial, however, the agent ended up admitting that they had not independently verified that the purchases the source spoke of had actually happened, instead moving directly to getting a warrant to search the home where they grew, dried and cured the cannabis they sold to patients. The agent then went on to admit that he didn’t know what the amount providers could legally have even was for the state of Montana – only that the source claimed he had been illegally sold more than that. It also turns out the source has felonies on their record for forgery and identity theft – likely this has ended up tanking the source’s credibility.

All this sounds like the perfect case falling under that Ninth Circuit Court ruling, but unfortunately that ruling left out one important detail: whose responsibility is it to prove or disprove compliance – the defense or the prosecution? Whether or not this case deserves to be heard or dropped depends on a federal judge who will review it. Both parties were given until April 12th to provide a brief on the issue of compliance with state law, and who they believe should be responsible for proving or disproving that compliance.