On Friday, a federal judge sentenced Chris Williams, a former medical marijuana caregiver, to 5 years in prison under a plea agreement that was struck with federal prosecutors after he was convicted by a jury at trial.
Williams’ sentencing marks the end of the prosecution for the four co-owners of Montana Cannabis, which was at one time the largest medical marijuana collective in the state.
Ultimately, the time Williams has already served counted toward his drug charges, and the 5 years he is now serving is for a weapons charge. The judge opted to drop a $1.7 million criminal forfeiture that the jury awarded against Williams.
Assistant US Attorney Joseph Thaggard had suggested that Williams serve two consecutive 5 year sentences for his crimes, but US District Judge Dana Christensen was more lenient with the former dispensary owner.
Initially, 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. The collective was in full compliance with Montana law, but that made no difference in a federal case. Based on those 8 convictions, Williams would have been sentenced to a mandatory 80 years in prison.
In December, federal prosecutors dropped six charges of the charges against Williams as long as he agreed not to appeal convictions of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking.
A brief protest was held outside of the Missoula federal court house on Friday.
Williams’ partners Tom Daubert and Chris Lindsey both received probation and no jail time in their cases. Partner Richard Flor was given a give year sentence, but due to prior illness passed away only a few months after being incarcerated.
Williams’ attorney has recommended that he be incarcerated in the federal prison in Sheridan Oregon so he can be closer to his son who attends Montana State University.