Montana voters passed an initiative in 2004 allowing distribution for medical needs, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Due to previous policies announced by the Obama Administration that federal resources would not focus on individuals operating within state law, Williams and his associates believed their medical marijuana business, “Montana Cannabis,” was in the legal clear. But after complaints from local citizens who could see marijuana plants being grown in greenhouses, the federal government decided to crack down.
Though Williams reportedly never handled them himself, several firearms were also found during the raid on Montana Cannabis. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Taggard reasoned the weapons were used to protect the business’ operation — though Williams’ lawyer, Michael Donahoe, said they were the individual possessions of the other employees — and as a result charges of possessing a firearm in the furtherance of drug trafficking were added to the initial drug trafficking charges. The combined effect brought the total mandatory minimum sentence Williams was facing to over 80 years.
Eventually, the government proposed a deal reducing Williams’ minimum to 10 years in exchange for waiving his right to appeal. Williams initially refused the offer. But when a new deal was put forward in December of 2012, reducing the minimum to 5 years, Williams relented. He said his primary concern was for his 16-year-old son, a freshman at Montana State University: The new minimum holds out at least the possibility that Williams will be out of jail in time to attend his son’s college graduation.
– Read the entire article at Think Progress.