Just as the Montana Judiciary committee deadlocked 6-6 on passing HB 161, the bill to fully repeal the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, we get word this morning of federal and local law enforcement raiding caregivers in multiple locations in the Big Sky State.
First, the good news:
(The Missoulian) HELENA – A Senate committee failed on a tie vote to endorse a bill that would repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee locked up 6-6 on a motion to pass House Bill 161, by House Speaker Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, to repeal the law passed by voters in 2004. The repeal bill passed the House earlier this session.
Five Republicans senators, joined by Democratic Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman, voted in favor of HB161.
Four Democratic senators, jointed by Republican Sens. Chas Vincent of Libby and Terry Murphy of Cardwell, opposed the bill.
Now the bad news:
(The Missoulian) Federal raids hit medical marijuana shops around Montana Monday morning, causing an uproar in a community already roiled by high-profile attempts to regulate it.
“The timing is impeccable,” said Chris Lindsey, a Missoula attorney who specializes in medical marijuana cases, about the fact that the raids unfolded as a state Senate committee deadlocked on a bill to repeal the 2004 voter initiative that legalized marijuana.
“They’re seizing everything – plants, marijuana, grow equipment, files and computers. It’s very, very broad in its scope,” Lindsey said, who retains a lingering business interest in Montana Cannabis, one of the businesses where federal search warrants were executed.
The huge Montana Cannabis greenhouse in Helena was included in the raids, with authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, Lewis and Clark County and Helena police taking part, according to the Associated Press. At least eight people were led away from the greenhouse in handcuffs, according to the AP report.
Our Montana Affiliate, Montana NORML, has been liveblogging the latest news. They report the “smash and grab” tactics Californians are already familiar with, destroying ballasts, lights, seizing cash, computers, and lots of cannabis, but not charging anyone with crimes or arresting people. Caregivers raided include Good Medicine Providers (Columbia Falls), 4 Seasons, CEG, Outlaw Hill (Livingston), Big Sky Patient Care (Bozeman), MCM (Bozeman), A Kinder Caregiver (Bozeman, Butte, Billings), Montana Cannabis (Helena), MT Cannabis (Missoula), Northern Light Medical (Kalispell), and Yellowstone Patient Care (Billings).
Montana NORML reports the raids are being overseen by the US Attorney’s office, specifically Victoria L. Francis, the Financial Litigation Unit Chief. Because, you know, there isn’t any larger financial criminals to go after these days…