MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a medical marijuana provider on Friday to five years in prison under a plea agreement struck with federal prosecutors after a jury convicted him at trial.
Chris Williams' sentencing in Missoula wraps up the prosecution of four co-owners of Montana Cannabis, one of the largest medical marijuana operations caught up in a federal crackdown that culminated with raids on more than two dozen homes and businesses in the state in 2011.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen accepted the recommendation of Williams' attorney and sentenced him to time served on a drug charge and five years for a weapons charge. He also dismissed a $1.7 million criminal forfeiture awarded by the jury.
Christensen called Williams "a principled man, stubborn in his beliefs, (who) remains steadfast in his conviction that he has done nothing wrong," the Missoulian reported (http://bit.ly/VBpVvf).
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard had recommended Williams serve consecutive five-year sentences for the two charges to which he pleaded guilty.
Williams was convicted of eight charges after a September trial in which he was not allowed to use Montana's medical marijuana law as a defense. He had argued that Montana Cannabis was compliant with the state's medical marijuana law, but separate judges later ruled that the federal law that lists marijuana as an illegal drug trumps state law allowing its use and distribution.
Prosecutors agreed in December to dismiss six charges as long as Williams didn't appeal convictions for possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.