Medical marijuana provider trial goes to jury


HELENA, Mont. - Jurors have begun deliberations in the trial of a medical marijuana provider whose operation was among those raided in the 2011 federal crackdown of Montana dispensaries. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen instructed the jurors Thursday after the attorneys made their closing statements. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard says Chris Williams ran the grow operation of Montana Cannabis, which distributed marijuana across the state. Thaggard says Williams conspired with his co-owners to break federal laws barring marijuana manufacture, possession and distribution. Williams also is charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug crime. Defense attorney Michael Donahoe was not permitted to argue whether Williams followed state laws regulating medical marijuana. Instead, Donahoe focused on the firearms charges, saying employees brought them to the Helena operation to protect themselves, not the plants.