Chris Williams: “With the rest of my life literally hanging in the balance, I simply could not withstand the pressure any longer”
Six Felony Charges and Criminal Forfeiture Dismissed, Appeal Waived
Medical cannabis provider Chris Williams has reached a settlement with prosecutors in his criminal proceedings. Under the terms of the highly-unusual, post-conviction compromise — the second of its kind offered to Williams — six of the charges will be dismissed, in exchange for withdrawing his pending motions for acquittal and a new trial.
Until Tuesday, Williams faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 92 years in prison. By agreeing not to appeal his conviction on Count III and Count VI, the mandatory minimum penalties against Williams have been reduced to five years.
Count III (Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana) carries a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment. Count VI (possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime) carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
As part of the deal, the federal government has also agreed to dismiss the criminal forfeiture against Montana Cannabis, the company Williams co-owned with three other men.
“It was not easy for me to give up my Constitutional fight, but as I navigate this complex federal penal system, it has become clear that punishment is the only thing that is guaranteed,” said Williams in a phone call from the Missoula County Detention Facility.
“With the rest of my life literally hanging in the balance, I simply could not withstand the pressure any longer. If Judge Christensen shows mercy and limits my sentence to the 5-year mandatory minimum, I could be present at my 16-year-old son’s college graduation,” Williams said. “This would most likely be impossible had I rejected the latest compromise.”
Williams is one of only four cannabis caregivers to take his case all the way to trial, out of more than 70 indicted since President Obama took office. A White House petition to pardon Williams has received more than 27,000 signatures to date.
According to activist Kari Boiter of the November Coalition, it is unknown whether Williams’s sentencing hearing will still take place on January 4, 2013.