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Medical Marijuana: Firearm penalties used to force pleas
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Medical Marijuana: Firearm penalties used to force pleas

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The March 14 Missoulian reports that four of Montana’s medical marijuana providers swept up in federal busts a year ago have pleaded guilty. It’s time, as Paul Harvey used to say, to tell the “rest of the story.”

It is estimated that over 90 percent of Montana households contain firearms, and that the average number of firearms per home is more than 20. Predictably, many of the medical marijuana providers busted by the feds possessed multiple firearms.

Because of that, those busted providers were also charged with multiple counts of firearm possession “during commission of a drug crime,” with each firearm count carrying a separate, multi-year, mandatory minimum sentence. So, federal prosecutors are stacking the firearm charges to force the accused into guilty pleas for the drug charges

When you see these guilty pleas in the media, remember that such pleas are extorted by federal prosecutors from people facing $100,000 in legal defense costs and a century in federal prison if they don’t roll over and plead guilty to federal “drug crimes.” To further undercut legal defense for these accused people, federal prosecutors have sought orders from federal judges to prohibit defense attorneys from mention to jurors that the accused believed what they were doing was legal because it was affirmatively sanctioned by state law, and that the U.S. Attorney General promised publicly that such federal busts wouldn’t happen.

While the media may make it look as if the accused have admitted to being criminals, the truth is the accused have been forced through the knothole of a process powerfully rigged by zealous federal prosecutors and complicit or federally-tolerant judges. While these federal machinations may be technically legal, they are definitely not any sort of justice, outrageously using otherwise-legal firearms as a club to force Montanans to accept federal criminal penalties.

Gary Marbut, Candidate, House District 99, Missoula

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