Landlord Faces Jail Time After Medical Marijuana Bust

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on March 27, 2012 under Legal | icon: commentRead the First Comment

tenant screening, tenant prescreeningCould this happen to you? A Montana landlord faces up to three years in prison for renting to a medical marijuana business. The landlord neither grew nor sold marijuana; he is the only landlord charged after two rounds of federal search warrants were served on Montana medical marijuana operations last year.

The landlord, along with three tenants, was charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

After making arrangements with the prosecutors, one tenant pleaded guilty to money laundering and will serve six months in federal prison with six months of house arrest. The others pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and received sentences of a year and a day.

The landlord, Jonathan Janetski, faces sentencing on April 19, on a charge of maintaining drug-involved premises, with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. His lawyer says that sentencing guidelines point to a likely sentence of 30 t o 36 months in federal prisonmore than the people who grew and sold the marijuana.

Janetski’s lawyer said his client thought the business was legal under state law. The raids surprised growers and medical marijuana dispensaries alike. State law legalized medical use of marijuana, but growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is still a violation of federal law.

Growers in California also thought their state’s law made it legal to grow and sell marijuana for medical use. There, authorities sent out warning notices before conducting raids. Landlords often used that opportunity to evict marijuana-growing tenants and remove the plants. The head of a drug task force in California’s Central Valley said that strategy proved more efficient than raids.

No such letters were sent in Montana, where one landlord who thought he was following the law has found himself facing criminal charges and jail time.

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