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Registered: 07/06/10
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US: Feds raid medical marijuana operations in Missoula, statewide
    #537086 - 03/15/11 09:32 AM (5 years, 7 months ago)


Monday 14 Mar 2011
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.

Early Monday afternoon, employees and clients stood outside Montana Cannabis' Missoula branch, which opened in January at Brooks and Stephens and shut down after the morning raid.

"We're closed," employee Toni Ware said to clients as they pulled up to the shop. "We're closed."

"They even took our cannabis-infused lotion," she said a minute later.

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.

The federal warrants are sealed, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Helena.

Montana Cannabis co-owner Christopher Williams told The Associated Press that raids were taking place at other businesses - Big Sky Patient Care in Bozeman, at MCM in Belgrade and Good Medicine Providers in Columbia Falls.

Medical marijuana blogs and Facebook sites lit up with the news Monday.

"Word is coming in literally as we speak," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, a national group that advocates for medical marijuana.

Like Lindsey, Hermes noted the coincidence of the raids and Monday's legislative action.

"This smacks of officials, whether law enforcement or hostile local public officials, not getting their way and sidestepping the democratic process to shut down legitimate providers," Hermes said.





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