PORTLAND — A judge heard arguments Thursday from attorneys for men from Auburn and Greene and a local company seeking to have federal drug charges against them dismissed.

The defendants cited a congressional act barring the U.S. Department of Justice from spending money on prosecutions for violation of federal drug laws against caregivers who are in compliance with their respective states’ medical marijuana laws.

Brian Bilodeau, 35, of Auburn and Tyler Poland, 33, of Greene appeared in U.S. District Court for the hearing that’s expected to last well into Friday.

The two men and the business MR LLC were netted in a Feb. 27, 2018, raid by federal drug agents in the Twin Cities, along with a dozen other defendants.

The aim of the raids was to bust a medical marijuana-growing operation that illegally sold surplus pot and derivatives, according to police and federal drug agents.

Prosecutors allege the drug-trafficking organization grew and distributed large amounts of marijuana under the cover of Maine’s medical marijuana program, but sold marijuana to buyers who were not participants in the program and included out-of-state customers.

In their motions, the three defendants argued that the 2016 Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment restricts federal prosecutors from interfering with states’ medical marijuana programs that had decriminalized its possession and sale for medical purposes.

Poland and Bilodeau were each indicted roughly a year ago on nine felony counts, including possession, manufacturing and trafficking of marijuana, as well as money laundering.

MR LLC, a corporation registered in Portland with Marcus Clegg as its agent, was indicted on three counts, including marijuana manufacturing, maintaining a drug-involved premises and money laundering.

On Thursday, the defendants called witnesses who are experts in Maine’s evolving medical marijuana law.

Bilodeau and Poland had consulted with the experts and asked them to review the state’s evidence and pressed them Thursday on whether they had appeared to be in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana program at the time of the raid.

In preparation for the hearing, they had viewed documents as well as videos and photographs recorded by federal drug agents during the raid and later visited the properties where agents had confiscated and destroyed the dozens of marijuana plants they had seized after executing search warrants.

Attorneys for the defendants made a point of repeatedly reminding U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal that any opportunity to verify whether the defendants had been in compliance with the medical marijuana law had been lost when agents destroyed the physical evidence.

The experts testified that the Maine Sheriffs’ Association had conducted inspections of licensed medical marijuana grow operations that included those associated with Bilodeau and Poland.

Prosecutors sought to show the defendants hadn’t complied with the state’s law. They noted lapsed licenses, more pot by weight than the law allowed, out-of-state sales and hiring “trimmers” to work in the grow rooms.

They pointed to figures from records that suggested the defendants had produced far more than the state law allowed caregivers to grow at the time of the bust and had realized profits far greater than strict adherence to the state law would have leveraged.


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