|Eliza Wiley/Helena Independent Record
|Chris Williams faces a mandatory minimum sentence of more than 85 years in federal prison
Editor’s note: Chris Williams faces a mandatory minimum sentence of more than 85 years in federal prison for medical marijuana. This is a letter written to federal judge Dana Christensen on his behalf by activist Kari Boiter.
The Honorable Judge Dana Christensen
United States District Court
201 E. Broadway
Missoula, Montana 59802
RE: Christopher Wayne Williams
I am writing this letter in support of Chris Williams. In my current career and the decade that I spent working in the television news industry, I have never known anyone as extraordinary, thoughtful, brilliant or honorable as Chris.
As Your Honor knows all too well, very few federal cases go to trial. In fact, out of at least 70 medical marijuana caregivers indicted since President Obama took office, Chris is one of only four to exercise his Sixth Amendment right to a trial by a jury of his peers. Chris didn’t refuse to plead guilty because he denies involvement in a cannabis caregiving operation – as Your Honor heard him openly take responsibility for on the witness stand in September – but because of his deeply-held belief in the U.S. Constitution. He believes that the Tenth Amendment guarantees States the right to experiment with policies on issues like medical marijuana, the “Made in Montana” gun law and campaign finance limits. Chris believes in the right to due process, eminent domain and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as evidenced by his civil lawsuit over the March 2011 raids. He clearly believed in the Second Amendment right to bear arms, like 39 percent of his fellow Americans and 58 percent of his neighbors in Montana.
Unfortunately, Chris also believed in the statements made by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, indicating that those in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state medical marijuana laws would not face federal prosecution. When he formed Montana Cannabis with three other men in 2009, Chris had faith that as long as they did everything in their power to strictly obey Montana law, the business would be allowed to operate openly and honestly. Montana Cannabis paid all state and federal taxes; workers compensation and unemployment insurance; generous salaries to close to three dozen employees, some of whom were otherwise unemployable or were previously working for sub-standard wages; the company even gave back to the local community, donating to local food banks and charity fundraisers.