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Montana Businessman Sentenced to 18 Months for Running Medical Marijuana Dispensary

The federal government is cracking down on MMJ businesses that don't comply with state laws.

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The owner of a network of medical marijuana dispensaries in Montana has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Charlton Victor Campbell, former owner of the Montana Buds chain of dispensaries, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge after signing a plea agreement that dismissed three other charges against him.

DEA agents raided the Montana Buds dispensaries back in May of 2016, along with the homes of Campbell and his brother Jesse, who was also involved in the business. Attorneys for the brothers argued that the Justice Department had no right to prosecute the brothers because of the Obama-era restriction preventing federal agents from prosecuting a medical marijuana business that is legal under state laws.

Prosecutors argued that the Montana Buds dispensaries were not complying with state laws, because owner Charlton Campbell had a prior felony conviction. In 2011, the Montana Legislature banned anyone with any felony conviction from running a medical marijuana business. As part of his plea deal, Campbell agreed to forfeit $30,000 in cash and surrender all of his dispensaries to the federal government.

This May, District Court Judge Dana Christensen ruled that Jesse Campbell had also broken state laws by possessing more cannabis than the state law allowed a MMJ provider to possess. Jesse Campbell also signed a plea agreement, agreeing to plead guilty to a count of maintaining a drug-involved premises. Under the agreement, he will forfeit $55,000 in cash as well as the home and other buildings that he was using to grow and sell medical marijuana.

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