MTCIA Reports on Hearing of Montana Caregiver on Issue of Admissible Evidence

October 13, 2011 News

The hearing for Richard and Justin Flor to determine what would, or would not, be admissible evidence was scheduled for this morning in Helena in federal court. At this hearing, Judge Lovell was expected to rule on whether the fact that Montana state law allows for medical cannabis would be admissible in federal court, or whether the Flor trial would move forward as though the Flors’ medical cannabis business was a black market operation in a state without medical marijuana laws.

This is how it is with federal charges. Any provider or patient in any state with medical marijuana laws can be charged with a federal crime even if that patient or provider is doctor-approved, registered, and/or licensed. The half million plus citizens nationwide who utilize medical cannabis are all guilty of committing a federal crime. 

The hearing, however, did not move forward on these issues. Richard Flor’s attorney requested a continuance for his client until a psychological assessment could be made as to whether he were mentally fit to stand trial. R. Flor has many health problems, including diabetes, and was in fact without his medication for a couple of weeks when initially jailed. R. Flor’s attorney told the judge that his client’s thought patterns were not coherent and he would not be able to provide testimony in his own defense. He asked that Flor be assessed for Alzheimer’s. The attorney for the federal government agreed to the assessment in order to “dispose of this motion.” Judge Lovell agreed to this request and a continuance.

The trial had been set for October 31. It will now be postponed.

Judge Lovell said that Richard Flor was to be taken into custody by federal marshals until taken to a federal hospital for assessment (likely on the east or west coast). Flor’s attorney asked that his client not be taken into custody due to his health problems and this was agreed to by the court. Instead, Flor was instructed that he would turn himself over to federal marshals when it was time to be transported to the federal hospital (in about two weeks).

When the judge asked R. Flor if he understood, Flor said yes and asked if he would be handcuffed while transported by federal marshals cross county and would it be by ground travel or air. From the “audience” in the courtroom, the marshal in attendance nodded “yes” to the handcuff question. He was sitting behind Flor, out of his line of vision. Judge Lovell said it would be up to the marshals. Flor’s attorney asked if Flor could attend to his own transport attended by his attorney. The judge said yes and told the attorney he better make sure he gets there.

When the competency test issue was resolved, Flor’s attorney brought up the issue of whether state laws would be admissible. The judge said that conversation is on hold until after Flor is assessed. Lovell said he had been ready to rule on those questions of what evidence will or will not be accepted, but now everything has stopped and will begin again if and when Flor is found competent to stand trial.

However, the few words Lovell said on the issue at the opening of the hearing did not bode well for Montana law existing or mattering in the eyes of the United States government. Lovell opened the hearing saying the questions before the court concerned what happens when state law collides with federal law. He went on then to quote the Supremacy Clause and refer to it as “the bedrock rule for any conflict between federal law and the law of Montana.”

He said “without question” that marijuana possession, distribution, etc. were federal crimes, made so by Congress. Nonetheless, he said, Montana had adopted a medical marijuana law.

The trial for Richard Flor’s son, Justin, also indicted, is also postponed.

Nearly 30% of the population of the United States lives in a jurisdiction allowing for medical marijuana. Why are the Representatives and Senators in our U.S. Congress who supposedly represent almost 1/3 of the citizens of this country not standing up to federal policy and standing up for their constituents? Whom do they work for?

And on another note, why do dispensaries in California get 45 days notice before their state law is treated like toilet paper as compared to Montana whose notice came at gunpoint?