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Chris Williams wrote this article from federal prison [Indiegogo]
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Chris Williams wrote this article from federal prison
[Indiegogo]

Editor’s note: This is medical marijuana activist and federal prisoner Chris Williams’ response to Eric Stern’s article “A Life Sentence… For Pot?” which appeared on Salon on June 21.

I have mixed emotions about this article by Eric Stern. It is nice to see some of the truth coming out about the raids in Montana, but there are a few facts that need to be cleared up.

I understand that Eric would not know all of the details, because he has not lived through it like I have. First of all, I am 39 years old. I only started looking like I am 49 after the destruction of my life by the federal government. Truthfully, I feel like I am 25 – running and doing pull-ups and push-ups like a 25 year old – so the error about my age doesn’t bother me that much.

Some of the facts that have been left out of this story do bother me. Even though I have no hard feelings towards Tom Daubert and Chris Lindsey, I want people to understand that they made the choice to work with prosecutors during my trial.

Tom was actually working with federal agents before the indictments. They are both very savvy, educated men and they chose to work out a deal that ensured their freedom.

Tom Daubert was never indicted, so he did not face 80 years in prison. He chose to cooperate long before any indictments were handed down. Tom and Chris could have made a different choice.

They could have organized a joint defense with all of us working as one group to fight this injustice. I think we could have changed federal policy if we had all fought together. 

I am not a lobbyist or an attorney like Tom and Chris. My decision was risky and some say it was irrational, but I made the choice to fight for what I know is right.

It is unfortunate that the federal public defenders and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the State of Montana operate as one unit. After setting up a good record for my appellate battle, I soon realized that I was actually fighting alone.

The reasons behind my acceptance of a very rare post-verdict compromise are complex. The primary factor is that Mr. Cotter threatened to use legal maneuvering to take away my ability to appeal. It became very clear that my fate was in the hands of the Department of Justice.

My trial was nothing more than a piece of theater. I was not allowed to tell the truth in front of the jury. In fact, half of my testimony was given after the jury was forced to leave the courtroom.

Chris Williams
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Chris Williams:
“The jury never heard the whole truth”

The jury never heard the whole truth. The only reason Montana Cannabis grew to the size it did was to provide a model for state-legal medical marijuana operations. We wanted to set an example for the Montana Legislature. The reason we were targeted was so that Mr. Cotter could take control of Montana’s legislative process. He is a crusader who has almost won the battle, but does not realize the war is not over.

I am unable to appeal my sentence. It has been made very clear that if I do, I will spend the rest of my life in prison.

I have requested a pardon through the White House petition forum and I am very thankful that more than 30,000 people supported my request. Unfortunately, no action was taken and I am not legally able to request a pardon from prison.

My legal options are very limited. One of the reasons I am in prison right now is because I supported the rights of my employees and the other owners of Montana Cannabis to legally possess firearms to protect themselves from harm. The firearms charge that I am currently serving time for does not involve guns that I owned. I never violated any firearms laws or Montana law. The jury only found me guilty through a complex theory in conspiracy law.

If the U.S. Attorney had issued a warning letter like we’ve seen in other states, we would have closed our doors and taken this battle to civil court, but we were not given that luxury. Even if I had not been sentenced to 64 months in federal prison, I would still be under attack.

The decision to appeal the prison sentences of four other medical marijuana caregivers in Montana makes it clear that Mr. Cotter does not respect the decisions of a federal judge. The people who joined me in a civil lawsuit and those that went to trial to fight this injustice are the ones who are still under attack.

Those who cooperated with the prosecution and helped them build their cases will not have their sentences appealed, even though none received prison time. That is the reward for people like Tom Daubert, Chris Lindsey, Mark and Valerie Sigler and the many others who became confidential informants and witnesses for the DEA. If they are threatened with prison in the future, I’m sure they will once again make the “rational” decision to offer more cooperation.

If I had not gone to trial and fought this injustice, I would not be in prison now. My sentence and the appeal of the other sentences are punishment for fighting for our rights. I demanded my day in court and fought for my freedom, so prison is the price I must pay.

At least I can look myself in the mirror for the rest of my life and know that I did my best.

I would be glad to do an interview with Eric Stern or anyone else who wants to know the truth. I know that Tom Daubert has been able to tell his side of the story, since he received probation and is able to travel freely.

I am currently writing and doing my best to record the truth. Maybe someday it will all be in a book. I may not be an Ivy League college graduate, but I think it will make for some interesting reading.

Facebook page: Free Christopher Williams

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