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Tom Daubert, a longtime medical marijuana advocate and proponent of laws to regulate the once-booming industry, is scheduled to plead guilty to a federal drug charge on May 3 in Missoula.

The agreement filed earlier this month stipulates that Daubert will plead guilty to maintaining a drug-involved premises, and pay $50,000. His May hearing was set this week.

In U.S. District Court in Helena on Thursday, one of Daubert’s former business partners was sentenced to five years in prison on the same charge.

Daubert was one of the co-founders of Montana Cannabis, for a time one of the most visible medical marijuana operations in the state, with locations in Missoula, Miles City, Billings and Helena.

Its large greenhouse alongside U.S. Highway 12 East in Helena hosted tours for law enforcement officers and state legislators.

But the greenhouse shut down after federal agents raided it and other medical marijuana businesses around the state in March 2011, on a day when a legislative committee debated changes to the state’s 2004 voter-approved law legalizing medical marijuana. Daubert, founder of a medical marijuana advocacy group called Patients and Families United, helped draft the original measure.

The 2011 Legislature approved severe restrictions to that law. Even though parts of the new law were blocked in court, its provisions – along with the raids – had a chilling effect on the medical marijuana business in Montana.

Daubert had divested himself of his interest in Montana Cannabis in December 2010. Court documents filed in the federal case allege a conspiracy that began April 1, 2009, and continued until the March 2011 raids.

An affidavit filed by Special Agent Wesley Smith said that an account opened for Montana Caregivers Association – trademarked Montana Cannabis – saw $1.25 million in deposits, mostly in cash, between Dec. 11, 2009 until Dec. 31, 2011. Agents seized some 950 plants from the Helena greenhouses during the raids, according to Smith’s affidavit.

Business records seized “confirmed the defendant, in fact, agreed with the others listed above to maintain drug-involved premises.”

Those others included Richard and Sherry Flor, 68 and 54, and their 34-year-old son, Justin, all of Miles City, along with three indicted co-conspirators.

Richard and Justin Flor each were sentenced to five years in prison Thursday, while Sherry Flor was sentenced to two years, the Associated Press reported.

The Flors initially faced 11 counts, including conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, plus money laundering and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. The mandatory minimum penalties were up to 25 years in prison and $5 million in fines, but all three reached plea deals.

Richard Flor acknowledged conspiring to maintain a drug-involved premises – the same charge Daubert faces. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and three years’ supervised release.

In January, Justin Flor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, as well as possessing the drug with intent to distribute.

Last fall, Sherry Flor pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio @missoulian.com or @CopsAndCourts on Twitter.

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