The Obama Administration has overrode state law yet again, and is now sending a state-legal Montana medical marijuana cultivator to federal prison. A press release from Americans for Safe Access brings us the details:

A black man with hands outside the bars of a prison cellMissoula, MT – Montana medical marijuana patient, cultivator and former University of Montana Grizzlies quarterback Jason Washington was convicted yesterday in federal court of two felonies, “conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana” and “possession with intent to distribute marijuana,” but was acquitted of another felony possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-related crime. Washington claimed to be in compliance with Montana’s medical marijuana law but, as is typical with such federal cases, defendants like Washington are routinely denied a defense. He is facing a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence, up to 40 years in prison, and more than $10 million in fines and forfeitures.

Washington and six others were arrested and similarly charged in November 2011, after the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided his Big Sky Health dispensary in Missoula. Five of his six co-defendants pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government’s case against Washington. Illustrating the government’s prosecutorial disparity, Washington’s co-defendants received far more lenient sentences than what he’s facing, the longest of which was only 125 days. Charges against the sixth defendant were thrown out by U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen, who presided over the cases. Twenty other people in the case were never charged, and were offered immunity by the government to testify against Washington.

“Jason Washington is the latest casualty in President Obama’s effort to undermine the implementation of state medical marijuana laws,” said Kris Hermes, spokesperson with Americans for Safe Access, the country’s largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. “Several Montana cultivators have been unnecessarily imprisoned recently, some with fatal consequences.” Sixty-eight year-old medical marijuana cultivator Richard Flor died last year while serving out a 5-year prison sentence after being convicted in federal court, despite no evidence of state law violations. “When is the Obama Administration going to answer for its aggressive enforcement practices against state-compliant medical marijuana providers?” asked Hermes.

The DEA raid on Big Sky Health followed a series of federal raids in March 2011, at the same time the Montana legislature was considering a law that would have repealed the state’s original medical marijuana law, Initiative 148, adopted in 2004. Shortly after the initial raids, in April 2011, U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter sent a letter to the legislative leadership indicating that the Justice Department maintains the authority to enforce federal marijuana laws “even if such activities are permitted under state law,” and that “investigative and prosecutorial resources will continue to be directed toward these objectives.” The governor vetoed the repeal bill, but the raids and threats made by U.S. Attorney Cotter spawned another restrictive proposal, Senate Bill 423, which ultimately was signed into law.

Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, his administration has indicted more than 80 medical marijuana patients and providers, this despite his campaign promise not to use federal resources to circumvent state medical cannabis laws.

President Obama got a second term and there was a lot of hope that his administration would back off medical marijuana, but for now, they are moving forward with putting those who have followed state law in prison.

Joe Klare

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6 Responses

  1. KDog

    Don’t trust Obama is the lesson learned. He seems to be as swayed by the prison industry as any other politician. That’s all its about, putting people in prisons which keep drifting closer to work camps for cheap labor.

  2. hunkabarry1

    Tampering with evidence should be filed against the Federal prosecutors. He should be granted a repreave.I thank Jason for what he did,helping thousands of people. There is no justice here.What sort of message does this send out to our youths?.Very corrupt politicians and public officials to me. Who can you trust anymore.?Time to end this war on drugs and implement Portuguese drug policy.Because “Where there is prohibition there is an illegal undergoround”. Have you noticed since this resrictiive law came in Sb423 crime has sky rocketed?.Way to go ace.You would think this so called educated politicians would have studied history. I only hope the judge is compansionate and sees the injustice that has taken place

  3. drmaddogs

    When the State(Central Govt) disallowes an individual State Law from being brought into evidence, it means the FED wishes to be the only authority of record. This is not how the Republic of States were designed to work.
    As each new law has been installed by the Federal that simply mirrors State law, the Central has empowered themselves to decide which social situations they can guide. All the while, the justification is about helping the States in Interstate conditions, interstate commerce.
    But this ignoring individual States citizens voter approved regulation was not voluntarily given to the Central… it was taken. Only by mass State voting can the Fed ‘Pandoras Box’ be closed and the Genie put back in the bottle. Only by voting can the Federal Monolith be curtailed in its constant thirst for control over any aspect it wishes.

  4. Robert Chase

    Anyone who has ever participated in pretending to criminalize Americans who use cannabis is a traitor to our country and an enemy combatant against our People and Constitution. The entire Federal judiciary should be beyond the protection of our laws. If America were still peopled by patriots (instead of consumers) Dana Christensen and her ilk would not exist.

  5. Jose

    Did anybody even look at the case file, this asshole was bringing in over 45 pounds a month from outta state, they had his text messages! This fucking guy was a criminal! In the texts he mentioned how he was getting rich off these fools (patients)! So how about everyone quit saying, whoa is the poor caregiver or whatever, this guy gives the industry a bad name and sites like this try to protect these people without presenting all the evidence!

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