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Medical Marijuana Arrests in Montana

Published on 07/08/2011 -

Medical Marijuana Arrests in Montana

Last week, three men were arrested in Montana as part of reported statewide raids of medical marijuana facilities. Though medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2004, recent action from state lawmakers has pushed to limit its distribution. Some critics of medical marijuana apparently think that it's getting too often into the hands of recreational users.

The men face charges that include:

  • Manufacturing, distributing and possessing marijuana;
  • Money laundering; and
  • Conspiracy.

If it seems odd to you that the first charges are possible in a state where medical marijuana has been legalized, you're not alone. The charges came in federal court and so were made at the federal level, at which marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

If convicted, the men could face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years, with the possibility of up to 40 years behind bars.

Mixed Feelings about Mary Jane

Throughout the country, marijuana evokes ambivalence. The state of Montana is no different. Consider this:

  • Despite the drug's federal status as a controlled substance, the country's former deputy attorney general released a memo suggesting that prosecuting major marijuana operations (such as those in Montana and other states where the drug is legal) would not be a top priority.
  • The memo also reportedly noted that illegal, for-profit sales of marijuana would be watched closely and limited.
  • In its 2011 legislative session, the Montana legislature passed reforms meant to limit marijuana use in the state (though the law currently faces legal objections).

Some people suggest that the second half of what's known as the "Ogden Memo" triggered the Montana raids.

Marijuana: Legal and Illegal Simultaneously

Like gay marriage, marijuana is legal in some states but illegal at the federal level. And in some places, marijuana is partially decriminalized (meaning that less harsh civil penalties, rather than tough criminal ones, are attached to its use).

But all that makes for some sticky situations between federal and state law enforcers. Whatever happens in the future, it's interesting to see how the changing times have led to the decriminalization of various acts. In fact, all the following used to have criminal penalties in some part of the world:

  • Breastfeeding in public;
  • Abortion; and
  • Homosexuality.

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