Pubdate: Sat, 12 May 2012
Source: Helena Independent Record (MT)
Copyright: 2012 Helena Independent Record
Author: Eve Byron


A Helena lawyer is asking a federal court judge to throw out the 
charges against his client, saying that the U.S. Attorney's office 
has no right to "veto" Montana voters' approval of medical marijuana.

Michael Donahoe, a federal defense attorney, said that the federal 
government "selectively targeted" medical marijuana cultivators and 
dispensers like his client, Chris Williams, who is a founding member 
of Montana Cannabis. Donahoe is asking that the case against Williams 
be dropped.

In addition, Donahoe argues in court documents filed this week in 
U.S. District Court that the federal government's prosecution of 
medical marijuana providers violates the U.S. Constitution by a 
"direct and intended" encroachment on Montana's governmental rights 
under the "Guarantee Clause" of Article 4.

That clause states that the federal government shall guarantee every 
state a republican form of government, which means that people hold 
the power, not the government, and it can't go against the will of 
the people. By prosecuting Williams after Montana voters 
overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana in the state, 
the federal government is overstepping its boundaries, according to Donahoe.

He adds that 17 states already have decriminalized some use of 
medical marijuana, and 12 others have legislation pending to legalize it.

"If these states are added to the roster of jurisdictions allowing 
the use of medical marijuana the total will swell to 29, well over 
half of the jurisdictions in the United States," Donahoe wrote, 
adding that he's wondering if this "grassroots movement" at the state 
level ought to impact the federal government.

"The Constitution does not cast the states as mere puppets of the 
central federal government. The structure of our republic presupposes 
that the federal government is one of limited powers, not because it 
chooses to be, but because the Constitution says it is," he wrote.

In its own motion this week, government prosecutors said that while 
Donahoe is trying to raise constitutional issues, among others, he's 
just putting up a smokescreen.

"The intertwined subjects of medical marijuana, Montana law and 
medical necessity have no relevance to determining whether the 
government has proven the crimes charged in the indictment," 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard wrote in his legal brief. 
"Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. 
Unlike drugs in other schedules ... Schedule I drugs cannot be 
dispensed under a prescription."

Thaggard adds that ultimately, the use, possession or distribution of 
marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substance Act, even 
when done in compliance with state law.

He adds that Williams, along with co-defendant Chris Lindsay, wasn't 
complying with state law anyway because they distributed marijuana to 
some people who didn't have a prescription for it; sold hashish, 
which isn't authorized under Montana state laws; maintained more 
marijuana plants than necessary to service their authorized 
customers; and engaged in prohibited caregiver-to-caregiver distribution.

Williams' trial is set to begin at 10 a.m. June 11 in Helena before 
U.S. District Court Judge Dana L. Christensen.
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