Federal agents seized 289 marijuana plants and a variety of pot products during a raid of a Helena marijuana business last month, according to court documents. The raid on Sleeping Giant Caregivers in May came two months after federal agents searched dozens of medical marijuana businesses across Montana. A search warrant listed over two dozen items that were seized, including three gallon-sized bags of marijuana, small pipes and growing tools. Paul Schmidt, the owner of Sleeping Giant Caregivers, said the goods seized are about average for a midsized marijuana growing operation in Montana. He said the 289 seized plants are well below the legal amount for the approximately 450 patients he served. “We just kept enough on hand to make sure there was enough medicine for the patients and that was it,” Schmidt said. He valued the growing equipment seized at nearly $20,000.
Federal agents also were authorized to seize up to $1.2 million from a business-related bank account. Schmidt said $2,011.28 was actually taken and that the business was not very profitable. Schmidt said he has had to close his operation. The large-scale marijuana businesses that serve hundreds of customers were allowed by the state’s original voter-approved medical marijuana law. Montana’s U.S. attorney warned federal prosecutors would pursue pot businesses but not seriously ill patients who are following state law.
The U.S. Attorney’s office would not disclose what prompted the raid on Sleeping Giant Caregivers. U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter has said the March raids were part of a long-term investigation into criminal drug trafficking, though no charges have been filed. Federal action and a perception by critics that the state’s pot laws were being abused prompted a rewriting of the states cannabis laws that went into effect May 14. To rein in more than 30,000 users in Montana and avoid federal intervention, the law prohibits marijuana from being sold. It must be given away on compassionate grounds starting July 1.
via : Stamford Avocate
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