Montana’s First Registered Medical Marijuana Caregiver Dies in Federal Prison

Richard Flor died in a Las
Vegas Bureau of Prisons medical facility on Wednesday.

Flor, 68, was just a few months into a five-year prison sentence
for running a Billings, Montana marijuana dispensary with his wife
and son. Flor also co-owned Montana Cannabis, one of the largest
medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, and which was the
subject of a March,
2011 federal raid. 
 Montana legalized medical
cannabis in 2004, but that doesn’t matter under federal law.

Flor’s wife got two years in prison for bookkeeping, and his son
got five years for running the Billings dispensary. These were
pleas entered and settled before the Department of Justice (DOJ)
could make sure that medical marijuana went unmentioned
in the
court room.
 (More about the debate over mentioning the
state legality of marijuana in court defenses can be found


US District Court Judge Charles Lovell sentenced Flor to years
in federal prison despite testimony that he was suffering from a
variety of illnesses, including dementia, diabetes, hepatitis C,
and osteoporosis. Lovell did recommend that Flor “be designated for
incarceration at a federal medical center” where his “numerous
physical and mental diseases and conditions can be evaluated and

The Great Falls Tribune
confirms this list of ailments and

Last month, [Flor’s attorney Brad] Arndorfer filed a motion
requesting the court release Flor pending an appeal of his sentence
due to health concerns. Arndorfer’s brief supporting the motion
detailed how Flor suffered from severe osteoporosis and on multiple
occasions while in custody, Flor had fallen out of bed breaking his
ribs, his clavicle and his cervical bones as well as injuring
vertebrae in his spine. Flor also suffered from dementia, diabetes
and kidney failure among other ailments, Arndorfer said.

“He is in extreme pain and still is not being given
round-the-clock care as is required for someone with his medical
and mental conditions,” Arndorfer wrote in his brief to the court.
“It is anticipated he will not long survive general population

In his Aug. 7 order denying the motion, Lovell wrote that it was
unfortunate the Flor had not yet been transferred to an appropriate
medical facility but that the concerns detailed in the motion were
“not factually or legally significant.”

Lovell wrote that the federal Bureau of Prisons could provide
the necessary medical care and that recent tests found kidney
dialysis wasn’t needed, despite the fact that a year earlier a VA
health care provider discussed with Flor the possibility that he
might need dialysis in the future.

Lovell wrote that “defendant has no such present need.”

In a statement released by his staff, Lovell said he was sorry
to learn of Flor’s death but that judicial ethics prevented him
from commenting further.

Flor had numerous, serious medical problems, so it’s hard to
know how much longer he would have lived, but being in prison sure
shortened his life and diminished its quality. Thanks to the DOJ,
the man got to spend his last months of life in in a cage, with his
wife and son suffering the same, so they didn’t get a chance to say
goodbye to him. His daughter, however, was at his side when he
passed and said of her father’s months in custody, “they didn’t
give him any of the medical attention he needed, and they never
took him once to a medical doctor.” Arndorfer is considering a
lawsuit against the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of
Prisons, saying that Flor’s complains about kidney pain were

Meanwhile, the other co-owners of Montana Cannabis go to
trial in

This is Obama and the DOJ’s don’t call it a
, drug war; just as callous as the real thing.

Previous Reason reports on medical
marijuana in Montana.