Judge won't shorten former Montana medical pot provider's probation

2014-01-15T07:49:00Z 2014-01-17T00:55:18Z Judge won't shorten former Montana medical pot provider's probationBy KATHYRN HAAKE Missoulian The Billings Gazette
January 15, 2014 7:49 am  • 

MISSOULA — A federal judge has rejected a former medical marijuana provider’s effort to cut short his sentence after serving a little more than a year on probation.

In September 2012, Thomas Daubert was sentenced to five years of probation for his part in operating a medical marijuana business. Daubert helped write the state’s medical marijuana law and has worked as a political consultant on medical marijuana issues.

In his decision filed Monday, Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said the motion was denied because Daubert doesn’t “meet the exceptional circumstances required for early termination.”

The motion to end the sentence was filed last month in U.S. District Court by Daubert’s attorney, Peter Lacny, who argued that Daubert’s probation hindered him from taking care of his ailing mother in Philadelphia and prevented him from seeing his father before he died.

Lacny also wrote that Daubert has paid his extensive fines in full and had gone far and above the community service component of his sentence by writing multiple grants for local nonprofits.

“We felt that with what Tom had done and his need to travel. ... We thought it would be appropriate to end it,” Lacny said in an interview Tuesday.

But in his response, Christensen wrote that Daubert is still allowed to travel to Pennsylvania to care for his mother and he didn’t request to leave the state until after his father had died.

“The ailing health of defendant’s mother, while unfortunate, does not warrant complete termination of probation because defendant can easily satisfy the conditions of his probation while caring for his mother,” Christensen wrote.

Christensen further wrote that shortening Daubert’s sentence would create a sentencing “disparity among similarly situated defendants.”

Daubert’s five-year probationary sentence was significantly less than the minimum guideline of nine years in federal prison and less than the prosecutor’s recommended sentence of 78 to 97 months in prison.

“The history and characteristics of the defendant weigh heavily in favor of the defendant – however, this factor has already been considered in the court’s original sentence,” Christensen wrote, adding that “no one is surprised that this defendant performed admirably while on probation.”

Lacny said that he and his client both understand that his sentence was extremely “compassionate” given the official guideline and recommendation by the prosecutor.

“We are not making light that he violated federal law,” Lacny said “But at the same time, I think everyone understands that those indictments were somewhat unique.”

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