|Photo: Michael Gallacher/Missoulian|
|Sgt. Collin Rose of the Missoula Police Department watches while Jason Christ, owner of Montana Caregivers Network, looks through computer files Thursday afternoon during a police search of his office.|
Police searched the offices of Missoula, Montana medical marijuana provider Jason Christ on Thursday, seizing business records and at least one laptop computer.
“They’re conducting an audit to make sure no fraudulent paperwork went out,” said Christ, adding that he had long expected a visit from police, reports Gwen Florio of the Missoulian.
“I’m surprised it took so long,” said Christ, who is notorious for smoking marijuana in public places, as he held his trademark gondola pipe.
Thursday’s search warrant applied to “suspected distribution of dangerous drugs,” which supposedly means marijuana in this case, and tampering with public records or information, according to Deputy Missoula County Attorney Andrew Paul.
Police also planned to search a small grow operation at his house, Christ said.
|Photo: Michael Gallacher/Missoulian|
|Missoula Police Sgt. Collin Rose leaves Montana Caregivers Network offices with business records and a laptop computer seized fromMCN.|
But Deputy D.A. Paul disputed Christ’s characterization of Thursday’s search warrant as “routine.”
“I think if you looked at the number of dispensaries in Missoula County and looked at the number of search warrants issued, that statement would not stand scrutiny,” Paul said.
The only other search warrant for a medical marijuana business written up by the county attorney’s office was executed last month at Montana Pain Management, a dispensary on South Third Street West.
Montana Pain Management and Christ’s outfit, Montana Caregivers Network, are among 39 registered medical marijuana businesses in Missoula County as of October 18, according to records from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services.
|Photo: Missoula Independent|
|Jason Christ of Montana Caregivers Network with his trademark gondola pipe|
Christ’s MCN is well known for its traveling “cannabis caravans” which provide a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana for hundreds of patients within a few hours. Its offices are located in a building that also houses other firms in the medical marijuana business.
Inside the building’s hallway, a sign outside Christ’s suite read “Cannabis Care.” That was the name of another business he’d “experimented with,” Christ said on Thursday, declining to explain further.
Members of the Missoula Police Department and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department showed up about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, and searched the offices for about three hours, according to Christ.
“Part of our protocol is to expect the police and expect authorities,” Christ said, adding that he asks new employees if they feel able to deal with the stress of law enforcement breaking down a door and making employees lie on the floor.
But Missoula law enforcement didn’t do anything like that on Thursday, Christ said.
“They’re very kind here,” he said. “I like that they’re doing their job.”
Christ predicted that police would have a hard time deciphering the information they seized from his office.
His computer system contains 45 million lines of code, Christ said.
“It’s going to take them six months to even try to understand what I wrote,” he said. (I must confess: I really wish I could quote Christ as saying “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But he didn’t say that, as far as I know. ~ Editor)
Thursday’s search was only the most recent brush with the law for Christ.
Three former employees sued Christ and MCN in August, claiming they were wrongfully dismissed. Christ in turn sought an injunction against all three last month, claiming they stole trade secrets in violation of a noncompete clause and used them to form a new, rival business.
Christ’s tactics have not served the medical marijuana industry well, according to Ed Docter, who owns the Tamarack Dispensary — which he runs alongside his Tamarack Ski Shop — in Whitefish, Montana. Docter was visiting another business in the same building when police showed up to search MCN on Thursday.
“This in-your-face attitude (of Christ’s) — it’s amazing to think this is going to help the industry,” Docter said. “You’ve got to have a certain amount of professionalism… But he’s pushing the limits, being dumb.”