DEA investigates Montana state legislator for medical marijuana views

A member of Montana's state legislature says the Drug Enforcement Agency began investigating her over support for medical marijuana laws.

State House Democrat Diane Sands tells the Missoulian she was contacted by a defense attorney with some unusual news: The attorney had been approached by the DEA who wanted to know whether Sands might be connected to one of the attorney's clients who had been charged with distributing marijuana.

"So now, if you're a state legislator who has been working on medical marijuana laws, you are somehow part of a conspiracy," said Sands. "It's ridiculous, of course, but it's also threatening to think that the federal government is willing to use its influence and try to chill discussion about this subject."

Medical marijuana is legal in Montana, but the practice is still illegal under federal drug laws. The ATF recently stepped into Montana's medical marijuana laws as well, banning firearm sales and ownership from anyone with a medical pot card.

The ACLU has stepped in to defend Sands, though both say they don't expect any actual charges from the DEA. "When you hear this sort of thing, there's a part of you that just gets irritated, but there's a part of you that knows you have to, as an organization, make sure you've dotted the I's and crossed the T's," the ACLU's executive director, Scott Crichton, told the Missoulian.

"It's chilling, and it dredges up darker days from the '50s and '60s," said Crichton.

Neither the DEA nor the U.S. Attorney's Office have said why Sands' name came up in the investigation.

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