HELENA — The president of a medical marijuana advocacy group said Friday that he will remain in that position despite a judge's order that he no longer use the drug.
Chris Lindsey was sentenced in Missoula to five years of probation and ordered not to use marijuana after pleading guilty to conspiracy to maintain a drug premises for his role in a dispensary raided in 2011.
Lindsey was one of four partners in Montana Cannabis, a dispensary with locations across the state that was raided in a federal crackdown on large pot operations.
Lindsey also is an attorney and president of the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, an advocacy group that filed a lawsuit against medical marijuana restrictions passed by the Legislature in 2011. The group also organized a voter referendum that failed to recall the law.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered Lindsey to undergo regular drug testing, complete 200 hours of community service, stay away from firearms and forfeit $288,000 in bank accounts held under the name Montana Caregivers Association.
Lindsey said he intends to remain as the head of Montana Cannabis Industry Association and has the blessing of its board.
"I've been a passionate and I hope an effective advocate over the past year, and I plan to continue to do so," he said. "It changed my life, and I know many people whose lives were improved and that's not going to change."
He said he stopped using marijuana last year because he did not like how it made him lightheaded. He has been treating his ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the large intestine, with prescription narcotics, instead, he said.
Lindsey's conviction also may mean trouble for his status as a practicing attorney, according to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates complaints against lawyers.
A commission will recommend a penalty that could mean disbarment, suspension, public censure or some other form of discipline that ultimately will be decided by the Montana Supreme Court, Chief Disciplinary Counsel Shaun Thompson said.
Lobbyist Thomas Daubert, another partner in Montana Cannabis, previously was sentenced to probation. Partner Richard Flor of Miles City died in federal custody in August.
Partner Chris Williams, the only marijuana provider arrested in the crackdown to go to trial, was found guilty of eight drug and weapons charges. He made a post-conviction plea deal with prosecutors and faces a mandatory minimum of five years when he is sentenced on Feb. 1.