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United States v. Campbell

United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division

December 21, 2018




         Defendant Adam Walter Campbell ("Campbell") filed a Motion to Dismiss or Enjoin Prosecution and Request for Evidentiary Hearing (Doc. 16) on September 21, 2018. At Campbell's request, and pursuant to United States v. McIntosh, 833 F.3d 1163 (9th Cir. 2016), this Court held an evidentiary hearing on October 16, 2018, and ordered that both Parties file supplemental briefing to clarify their positions based upon the submitted evidence. The Parties have complied with this Order and the issue is now ripe for determination. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion will be denied.


         The following is a summary of the relevant facts elicited during the McIntosh hearing.

         In early 2016, the Missouri River Drug Task Force ("MRDTF") developed a confidential source ("CS") who was employed with Montana Buds, a medical marijuana production and distribution business in Bozeman, Montana. Montana Buds operated in a complex of buildings located at 152, 154, 156, and 160 Zoot Way in Bozeman, Montana. Montana Buds' grow operation was housed in 152, 154, and 156 Zoot Way, while 160 Zoot Way housed a laboratory and the storefront dispensary for Montana Buds' products.

         At the behest of the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") the MRDTF coordinated a series of controlled purchases from Montana Buds using the CS. These occurred on March 30, 2016, April 11, 2016, and May 9, 2016, and produced one-quarter pound of marijuana, one-half pound of marijuana, and another one-quarter pound of marijuana, respectively.

         On May 18, 2016, the DEA and the MRDTF executed search warrants on the Montana Buds' properties at Zoot Way. Authorities seized significant amounts of marijuana plants from 152 and 154 Zoot Way and discovered gallons of hashish oil (or "hash oil") and a sophisticated butane hash oil laboratory at 160 Zoot Way.[1]

         Based in part on the fruits of this search, a grand jury indicted Campbell of Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute Controlled Substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 ("Count I"), Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 ("Count II"), and Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856 and 18 U.S.C. § 2 ("Count III"). (Doc. 2 at 1-2.) Count I stems from the allegation in the Indictment that between approximately 2010 and May 18, 2016, Campbell conspired with "known and unknown persons" to manufacture and distribute "more than 1, 000 marijuana plants, and marijuana in the form of butane hash oil," in Bozeman, Montana, as well as California and Ohio. Count II alleges that during the same approximate time period, and in Bozeman, Montana, California, and Ohio, Campbell possessed "more than 1, 000 marijuana plants, and marijuana in the form of butane hash oil" with the intent to distribute. Count III alleges that during the same approximate time period, Campbell "knowingly and unlawfully used and maintained places located at 152 Zoot Way, 154 Zoot Way, and 160 Zoot Way, in Bozeman for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing marijuana." Lastly, the Indictment contains a forfeiture allegation, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §853, of 152 and 154 Zoot Way, Bozeman, Montana. (Doc. 2 at 2-4.)


         Campbell contends that his prosecution must be enjoined because he was in compliance with Montana law as it pertains to medical marijuana at all times alleged in the Indictment. As discussed, Campbell has been charged with various marijuana related violations of federal law, specifically the Controlled Substances Act ("CSA"), which prohibits the possession of marijuana regardless of whether it is being used for medicinal purposes. See Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005) (CSA, which criminalizes the manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana to intrastate growers and users of marijuana for medical purposes, did not exceed Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause).

         I. United States v. McIntosh

         Normally, a defendant's compliance with state law is immaterial for purposes of evaluating his culpability under federal criminal law due to article VI, clause 2 of the United States Constitution, also known as the Supremacy Clause. U.S. Const, art. VI, cl. 2 ("This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof... shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."); see also Hillsborough County, Fla. v. Automated Med. Laboratories, Inc., 471 U.S. 707, 712 (1985) ("It is a familiar and well-established principle that the Supremacy Clause ... invalidates state laws that 'interfere with, or are contrary to' federal law."). However, the Ninth Circuit's decision in McIntosh brought a defendant's compliance with state medical marijuana laws to the forefront of federal criminal prosecutions for marijuana offenses.

         In McIntosh, the Ninth Circuit consolidated several interlocutory appeals by defendants who were charged with federal marijuana offenses under the CSA. 833 F.3d at 1168-1169. These defendants were indicted in United States district courts located in California and Washington, two states which implemented statutory schemes providing for the lawful distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Id. at 1169-1170. The defendants moved to dismiss their indictments due to a 2014 congressional rider attached to an omnibus appropriations bill. This rider mandated that:

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Id. at 1169. Interpreting this language, the McIntosh Court determined that, in addition to preventing states from implementing their medical marijuana laws, this rider also prevented the Department of Justice from spending funds on "the prosecution of individuals who engaged in conduct permitted by the State Medical Marijuana Laws and who fully complied with such laws." Id. at 1177.

         The Ninth Circuit cautioned, however, that these individuals must "strictly comply with all state-law conditions regarding the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana." Id. (emphasis added). Consequently, prosecution by the Department of Justice of individuals who are not in strict compliance with all state medical marijuana laws is permitted under the rider. The McIntosh Court also stressed that individuals who distribute marijuana are still violating federal law and this rider "does not provide immunity from prosecution for federal marijuana offenses." Id. at 1179 n.5. Rather, the rider simply prevents the federal government from temporarily expending funds on the prosecution of certain defendants. Id; see also Id. at 1173-1174 ("When Congress has enacted a legislative restriction like [the rider] that expressly prohibits DOJ from spending funds on ...

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