Missoula Independent: How Montana’s muddled marijuana law put providers and patients at risk—and how to fix it


On the morning of May 18, 2016, two Drug Enforcement Agency convoys wound their way through Bozeman’s outer suburbs. One drove to the Four Corners industrial park west of town, and the other to a rural northside home at 1340 Hidden Valley Road.

At Four Corners, agents executed a search warrant on the headquarters of Montana Buds, a medical marijuana dispensary network owned by Charlton Campbell with branches in cities across western Montana.

Based on information acquired from confidential informants, the DEA believed that Charlton Campbell, his business partner Michael Mason, his brother Jesse Campbell, and employee David Maples were conspirators in an interstate drug ring, in flagrant violation of state and federal law.

The DEA agents raiding the Four Corners complex, owned by Charlton Campbell and Mason, found about what one would expect at the state’s largest medical marijuana dispensary: nearly 400 pounds of processed marijuana, more than 40 pounds of hash oil and edibles, a hash oil laboratory, more than 1,500 live marijuana plants, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

At Jesse’s Hidden Valley home, agents found more than 100 marijuana plants and clones in an outbuilding, $80,000 in cash in the master bedroom closet, just under 35 pounds of harvested marijuana, 29 hash oil vape cartridges, and a stack of 30 registration cards documenting Jesse Campbell’s patients.

As he would later testify in federal court, Special Agent Lee Herd, who executed the search warrant on Hidden Valley Road, didn’t know the intricacies of Montana’s medical marijuana law, and he didn’t have to. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution means that federal law, including the Controlled Substances Act, trumps state law, including the Montana Medical Marijuana Act.

Jesse Campbell’s attorneys would claim that Jesse had on hand a legal amount of marijuana per patient, thus he had committed no crime under Montana law. In the past, most attorneys who have tried this tactic in such cases have seen judges shoot it down.

But a new legal precedent, established only a month before the Campbell brothers and their associates were indicted, established that growers and patients who can prove they followed state law can’t be federally prosecuted as common drug dealers.

The Bozeman defendants would test that precedent for the first time, only to find the imprecision of Montana’s medical marijuana laws to be a devastating liability.

Source & Full Article: https://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/how-montanas-muddled-marijuana-law-puts-providers-and-patients-at-riskand-how-to-fix-it/Content?oid=4597243