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Pardon petition for convicted MT medical marijuana advocate to reach White House

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - "I did it when it came across 'Free Chris' on Facebook" said Rick Whatman, who owns Around the Clock Cannabis in Bozeman.

When the Bozeman medical marijuana provider heard about a petition to give former provider Chris Williams a chance for pardon, Whatman said he immediately signed.

"It's somebody that was abiding by the state laws, running a business- and now his life has changed and upside down" Whatman said.

Chris Williams owned a medical marijuana production facility, until the federal government raided it in March of 2011.

He refused many plea deal offers and fought the charges, arguing everything he did was legal under state law.

Williams was convicted on drug charges and faces a minimum of 80 years in prison.

His trial is set for early January.

According to the White House website, in early November, a man named Michael H. from California began the petition for Chris William's chance at freedom.

In less than a month, the petition reached and surpassed the number of signatures needed to call for a response by President Obama.

"We began using social network tools to spread it around to our supporters and our members" said Bob Brigham, of Montana First.

He told us that their organization promoted the petition, and saw support from across the country.

"Now we will get to see whether or not the President believes Chris Williams should spend 80 years in jail" Brigham said.

We also talked to Chris Lindsey, president of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association. He said medical marijuana-related petitions have gathered enough support to gain responses from the White House before, but they didn't get much of a response.

"Without fail, the White House has responded by having the 'Drug Czar'- Gil Kerlikowske- voice the response on behalf of the administration" Lindsey said.

Kerlikowske is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Despite past responses, Lindsey said he hopes the Obama administration grants a pardon- and better explain where the federal government stands on medical marijuana.

"It's one of the number one stories that is going around, and that's a great thing on it for him" Whatman said. "We hope that the White House actually looks at the petition, and reacts on it."

Providers like Whatman said regardless, Williams' has gained a ton of support- and now, he'll be waiting to see what happens.

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According to the White House page, petitions that get more than 25,000 signatures require a response. As of Tuesday night, Williams' petition had over 25,800 signatures.

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