Feds raid medical facilities across Montana

Posted on March 25th, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

cannabisMore than a dozen local and federal law enforcement agencies conducted aggressive criminal raids March 14 on 26 medical marijuana dispensaries and grow sites in 13 Montana cities, according to a press release issued by US Attorney Michael W. Cotter. Federal agencies involved in the raid included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No arrests were made, but the US Attorney has alleged probable cause for several federal criminal violations.

"Not only are these raids very harmful and unnecessary, they are aimed at undermining the democratic process by preventing the people and legislators of Montana from addressing their own public health concerns," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "There is no doubt these raids were timed to take advantage of a vulnerable political time for Montana patients." Sherer testified at the state senate hearing on HB 161, a bill to repeal Montana's voter-approved medical marijuana initiate, which died in committee the same day as the raids.

The Montana cities targeted in the raids include Belgrade, Big Sky, Billings, Bozeman, Columbia Falls, Dillon, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Miles City, Missoula, Olney and Whitefish. Since a Justice Department memorandum issued in October 2009 allegedly signaling an enforcement policy change, the federal government has conducted more than 75 raids in California, Colorado, Michigan, Montana and Nevada, resulting in at least two-dozen indictments.

"The public has been hoodwinked into believing the feds have changed their policy with respect to medical marijuana," said Sherer, "but the evidence points to the same aggressive tactics under President Obama that we saw for years under the Bush administration." President Bush was responsible for more than 200 raids and dozens of medical marijuana prosecutions during his two terms in office.

In addition to cannabis plants, computers, paperwork and other property seized in the raids, the federal government has executed Civil Seizure Warrants seeking $4 million from financial institutions in Bozeman, Helena, and Kalispell. This is not only the first federal action of its kind in Montana, focused exclusively on medical marijuana establishments, but the operation was also more broadly enforced than any others that have occurred since President Obama took office.  (ASA, March 15)

Photo by the Mad Pothead


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