Tom Daubert, a drug policy reform activist with a long history of work for humane medical marijuana laws, received 5 years probation in a decision reached today by federal US District Court. ”I’m grateful for the judge’s leniency but I will never stop believing that patients deserve to live under a law that recognizes true science,” says Daubert. Daubert’s former business, Montana Cannabis, was raided by federal agents in March 2011. Despite having worked closely with state and local law enforcement leaders throughout his involvement in marijuana production for state-legal patients, Tom was prevented from submitting a defense under federal law that his company complied with Montana’s medical marijuana law. He was facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“It is a tragedy and an outrage that the federal government chose to prosecute and pursue extensive prison time for Tom Daubert. Thankfully, Judge Christensen got it right and recognized the absurdity of spending tens of thousands of dollars a year to keep Mr. Daubert in a cage as the federal government was requesting,” said Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance. ”Unfortunately many others who compassionately provided to patients in Montana continue to be prosecuted and continue to suffer and die in prison based on the U.S. Attorney’s misguided war against medical marijuana in Montana.”
Daubert’s story leading up to these charges is featured in the new documentary CODE OF THE WEST, which premiered this year at SXSW – a portrait of the medical marijuana political debate in Montana and its implications beyond. During the filming of the documentary, Daubert offered tours of his company, Montana Cannabis, to state law enforcement officials and politicians. An excerpt from the film that highlights these tours is available for download and embedding here: http://vimeo.com/racinghorse/tomdaubert The defense submitted the film to the Judge, who referenced the film in the sentencing hearing.
“Medical marijuana is one of the most heated policy issues facing the country today. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, but the federal government doesn’t recognize any legitimate medical use,” says film director Rebecca Richman Cohen. “The chance to explore the cultural and legal tensions at the heart of this divide drove me to make this film. But even more importantly, it’s the effect on the lives of families and communities that I wanted to document.”
Although federal criminal law does not have an exception for the medical use of marijuana, a memo issued by the Department of Justice in 2009 reflected that the enforcement of federal criminal laws against those complying with state medical marijuana laws would not be an priority. But the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana growers shows a major shift in federal drug policy starting in early 2011. Daubert was not charged under state law with any violation of Montana’s Medical Marijuana, only federal law.
On August 29, Daubert’s former business partner, Richard Flor, died in federal custody. Flor had been one of the co-founders of Montana Cannabis and pled guilty to federal charges on January 17, 2012. Richard was sentenced to serve five years.