Crime & Courts

Sep 26, 2012 7:43 PM by Melissa Anderson (melissa@kxlh.com)

Williams trial on marijuana charges continues in Helena

The federal trial of a Chris Williams, a former medical marijuana farmer, will soon be in the hands of a jury.

Williams has been charged with eight felony counts for his involvement with cannabis operations from 2009 to 2011.

He is one of at least five men being tried by the federal government on various charges related to what is being called illegal operations conducted by the Montana Cannabis group in Helena.

As a partner, Williams was the farmer of at least 1,800 marijuana plants that were being grown and cultivated for sale at the former state nursery in Helena when it was raided by federal drug agents in March of 2011.

Williams is being charged with not only manufacturing, but also possession and distribution.

Because marijuana is a class 1 illegal drug under federal law, he is facing several felony charges, including numerous felony counts relating to firearms collected in the raid, some of which the DEA says were used in drug trafficking.

According to Williams, who testified on his own behalf, he and his partners, Tom Daubert and Chris Lindsey, who also testified, thought they were operating under the state Medical Marijuana Act, making their operation legitimate.

But because federal law supersedes state law, and they are being tried in a federal court, the jury isn't allowed to hear the state issue.

Several large pillow-sized bags seized by federal agents were shown to the jury as evidence along with pictures of firearms found on the premises.

Williams' attorney Mike Donahoe asked that the case be acquitted for lack of evidence in tying previous charges to yet another partner, Richard Flor in Miles City.

Federal judge Dana Christiansen ruled that the Williams case will go forward, however, but only using from evidence collected since 2009.

Closing arguments are expected in the case on Thursday.

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