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Caregivers Sold Marijuana To Undercover Agents

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Big Sky Patient Care in Four Corners sold "pounds" of marijuana to a Helena-based medical marijuana provider, according to a federal affidavit, leading some to speculate that large sales of marijuana between businesses factored into the 26 drug raids carried out Monday.

The document also describes a Miles City provider selling undercover agents a sniper rifle and marijuana and another provider hiring workers from Missouri to produce hashish.

The affidavit, which was inadvertently unsealed, sheds more light into at least one of the investigations that culminated with 26 search warrants being executed at medical marijuana businesses across the state. The document, which has been resealed, was originally obtained by the Billings Gazette and has since been widely distributed on the Internet.

The unsealed affidavit detailed the investigation of Richard Flor, and later Montana Cannabis, that began in 2007. Montana Cannabis, in which Flor was a partner, grew marijuana in Helena and Miles City and distributed it in Helena, Miles City and Billings. The affidavit said undercover agents bought marijuana from Flor twice and bought a sniper rifle from him, though it was not clear whether Flor considered the agent a patient.

Big Sky Patient Care became involved with Montana Cannabis when one of Montana Cannabis' grow sites in Helena was vandalized, causing an estimated $50,000 worth of damage, according to the affidavit.

With plants damaged, co-owners Thomas Daubert and Christopher Williams arranged to buy marijuana from Big Sky Patient Care for $2,700 a pound. One informant said they witnessed checks being written for the marijuana.

Montana Cannabis bought marijuana from the Four Corners business "for approximately five or six months in 2010, until the Montana Cannabis marijuana grow site could produce enough marijuana to sustain the business' marijuana distribution requirements for Helena, Billings and Miles City," the affidavit states.

That may have violated the state's medical marijuana law, prompting the investigations and Monday's raids.

"Current law limits the right of a caregiver to distribute medical marijuana ... only to specified card-carrying patients," Mike Batista, administrator of the state's Department of Criminal Investigations, wrote in a letter to a legislative panel in 2010. "Caregivers have advocated for allowing a caregiver to buy marijuana plants from other caregivers in order to maintain a sufficient supply of marijuana. Law enforcement ... is concerned that this contributes to the risk of diversion of ( medical marijuana ) for illegal purposes."

A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office states that drug traffickers, not sick individuals who use marijuana as allowed under state law, were the target of the investigation.

The fact that the affidavit details the large sales of marijuana between Big Sky Patient Care and Montana Cannabis - both of which were raided Monday - suggests to some that caregiver-to-caregiver sales played a part in the statewide searches.

"What I think has happened is that law enforcement via the ( state ) attorney general has decided that caregiver-to-caregiver ( sales ) violates the act," said Chris Lindsey, a medical marijuana attorney and board member of the Montana Medical Growers Association. "It does appear that caregiver-to-caregiver is part of the issue here."

Lindsey said sales between businesses was a gray area that advocates hoped would be cleared up in the Legislature this year. He maintained that caregivers must be allowed to sell to each other in order to start new operations.

Lindsey said sales between businesses was a gray area that advocates hoped would be cleared up in the Legislature this year.

"I think it is a reflection of frustration with caregiver-to-caregiver sales," said Chuck Watson, another attorney.

The Associated Press also reported Wednesday that a civil warrant was executed at First Security Bank in Belgrade Monday. The warrant authorized seizure of nearly $1.7 million in an account in the name of the Montana Cannabis Ministry and $103,413 in another account belonging to MCM owners Randy and Stephanie Leibenguth. That business was also raided on Monday.


NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle (MT)
Copyright: 2011 The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Contact: citydesk@dailychronicle.com
Website: The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Details: MAP: Media Directory
Author: Daniel Person
 
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