MISSOULA, Mont. - A medical marijuana provider who reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors only after a jury found him guilty at trial has been sentenced to five years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen accepted the recommendation of Chris Williams' attorney on Friday and sentenced the former Helena marijuana provider to time served on a drug charge and five years for a weapons charge.
Williams was convicted of eight charges after a September trial in which he was not allowed to use Montana's medical marijuana law as a defense. He faced a mandatory sentence of more than 80 years in prison.
Prosecutors agreed in December to dismiss six charges as long as Williams didn't appeal convictions for possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Protestors with the group "Journey for Justice" traveled across the country to attend the hearing and support Williams.
Before and after the hearing, they gathered in front of the federal courthouse in Missoula, holding signs and chanting, "Free Chris Williams!"
Organizer Kari Boiter said she believes five years is still an unjust sentence for Williams.
"Locking a man up who followed state law to a tee for 5 years... We're going to put somebody in prison, at a cost of about $50,000 a year, for 5 years, for obeying state law," said Boiter. "I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that this is considered justice. A man is going to prison for over 5 years. He's been ripped away from his son, who's 16 years old and needs his father."
Once his prison sentence is served, Williams also faces 5 years of supervised release.