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Feds continue to take tough stance on medical marijuana

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A recent poll in Montana supporting stricter medical marijuana regulations follows on the heels of a tougher stance by the federal government in states that allow medical marijuana.
According to a poll of 411 adults taken by Montana State University-Billings, 62 percent of respondents supported the Montana Legislature’s recent overhaul of the state’s medical marijuana act.
Only 28 percent of respondents opposed the legislature’s tougher regulations, and 55 percent said medical marijuana users should not be allowed to buy guns or ammunition.
That latter position seems to agree with the federal government’s most recent stance on medical marijuana and firearms. In a Sept. 21 letter, Arthur Herbert, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ assistant director for law enforcement, told firearms dealers they are not allowed to sell guns or ammunition to medical marijuana users even if they are legally registered under state law.
Last month, federal prosecutors in California announced they planned to go after newspapers, radio stations and other media that have advertising for medical marijuana dispensaries. The Montana Legislature’s prohibition on advertising for medical marijuana had been set aside by a district court, revealing one more disconnect between state and federal law when it comes to the medical use of marijuana.
Meanwhile across Montana, cases relating to a statewide raid of 26 medical marijuana businesses by state and federal law enforcement agents in March and April were moving through the courts. Locally, search warrants had been executed in Columbia Falls, Whitefish and Olney.
In one of the biggest cases, Sherry Flor, 54, of Miles City, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Helena on Nov. 1 to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. She faces up to 25 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent saw a photograph in a Montana newspaper showing more than 20 marijuana plants in the yard at Flor’s home in Miles City.
An Internal Revenue Service agent claimed more than $1 million had been deposited in banks by the Flor family business, which included her husband Richard and son Justin. Agents were prepared to testify that more than 950 marijuana plants would have been seized from the Flors’ greenhouses in Helena.
Here in the Flathead, Ryan Blindheim, 35, of Whitefish, the owner of the former Black Pearl marijuana dispensary in Olney, pleaded guilty in federal court in Missoula to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and money laundering.
Three other Flathead men were charged in connection with the business in Olney, where more than 700 plants were growing in a warehouse near U.S. 93. Evan Corum, 25, of Whitefish, pleaded guilty to money laundering, and Tyler Roe, 29, of Kalispell, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
According to federal charging documents, Blindheim and Corum deposited about $86,850 in personal savings accounts at Whitefish Credit Union. Blindheim’s attorney said his client thought his business dealings were legal under the Montana Medical Marijuana Act.
Federal prosecutors, however, have presented motions in two cases that are opposed to any references to Montana’s medical marijuana law being made in federal court.

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