Two Montanans Enter Pleas in Marijuana Case

Two men behind a lawsuit that sought to clarify state law on the transfer of medical marijuana between caregivers have pleaded no contest to felony criminal possession with intent to distribute.

Robin Ruiz and Lief Erickson reached plea agreements this week, shortly after District Judge Stewart Stadler ruled that the Medical Marijuana Act only allows caregivers to transfer marijuana to patients, the Daily Inter Lake reported in Friday’s edition.

Ruiz and Erickson were arrested Feb. 3 after officers found more than three pounds of marijuana in their vehicle.

The Medical Marijuana Growers Association sued Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, claiming that the men should not have been charged because they were legally transferring marijuana as a registered caregiver and patient.

Stadler issued a summary judgment in that lawsuit last month.

Erickson signed a plea agreement on Monday with the possibility of testifying against Ruiz. Timothy Baldwin, attorney for Ruiz, submitted a plea agreement to District Judge David Ortley on Thursday.

During questioning from Baldwin, Ruiz said that prior to his arrest, a representative of the Montana attorney general’s office told him that such transactions were legal.

“I was under the impression and had actually sought clarification of the law,” Ruiz said.

Baldwin said he had received similar assurances from an employee with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, but said neither he nor Ruiz were able to convince those officials to put their statements in writing.

Prosecutors are recommending five-year suspended sentences for both Erickson and Ruiz when they are sentenced on Oct. 20.

Missoula District Judge John Larson ruled in April that caregiver-to-caregiver marijuana transactions are not legal. That case is being appealed to the Montana Supreme Court by Chris Lindsey, the same attorney that is representing Erickson.

– Article Originally from NECN.