Saturday, May 8, 2010

Vigilante Justice for a Medical Marijuana Burglar

Will the further expansion of Montana’s medical marijuana businesses increase crime? Back in April 3 men were charged with the Kalispell hammer beating death of a man growing medical marijuana so they could steal his pot. The victim’s wife was later charged with evidence tampering and participation in the crime.

Today, the Missoulian reported that 4 men in Hamilton have been charged with the brutal beating of a man that robbed their medical marijuana business. Two additional men have been charged with burglary and receiving stolen property.

We have all heard the pros and cons of the medical marijuana dilemma that is facing Montana’s towns and these types of stories are what bothers the folks that have spoken out against the grow operation here in Havre. The Havre City Council is still wrestling with the topic in their quest to come up with some solutions. The next meeting of the City planning committee is May 13th at 5:15 pm

By PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic

Friday, May 7

HAMILTON - None of the men accused of beating Beau Miller last Tuesday with a baseball bat, flashlight and ax handle had ever been on the wrong side of the law.  They were a Boy Scout leader, a disabled veteran, a plumber and a former car title loan officer recently turned medical marijuana dispensary owner.  All four had medical marijuana cards. Three were medical marijuana caregivers.

On Thursday, the four Bitterroot residents learned they would face felony counts of assault and kidnapping in what a prosecutor said appeared to be a case of vigilante justice.  According to an affidavit filed in the case late Thursday afternoon, Miller allegedly broke into the John Stone Foundation, a medical marijuana dispensary store located near the Wye in Stevensville, to steal marijuana and other items.  Miller apparently gave some of those items, including marijuana, to Jesse Shoup of Victor.  Shoup is a disabled veteran who served two years in Iraq.  The owner of the medical marijuana dispensary is a Stevensville man named Tracy A. Moser, 44. Moser had learned that Miller allegedly had broken into his shop, but was unable to find the man.  Moser did find Shoup.  The affidavit said Shoup was afraid of Moser and that he agreed to return the items that were stolen from the shop. Shoup also agreed to pick up Miller and drive him to a location where Moser and the two co-owners of a Hamilton medical marijuana dispensary support business, Growsmart, would be waiting to confront Miller, according to the affidavit.

The co-owners of Growsmart are Kory M. Gassman, 31, of Hamilton, and Jason Erik Weis, 35, of Hamilton.  Gassman owns a heating and air-conditioning business in Hamilton. Weis owns a plumbing business and is a Boy Scout troop leader in Hamilton.  The affidavit said Shoup picked up Miller and drove him to a location on the South Burnt Fork Road, east of Stevensville, where the men were waiting. The men used their vehicles - including a white truck with the logo "Bitterroot Boys Club" displayed on the back - to block Shoup's vehicle.  Miller told officers later that he was beaten by all four of the men with baseball bats and a flashlight. Moser later told a witness that Gassman hit Miller four times with an ax handle, the affidavit said.  At some point, Miller pulled out a pistol that he had concealed on his body and attempted to fire at his attackers. The pistol was wrestled away, although the affidavit said several shots were fired during the struggle.  Miller escaped and ran to a nearby residence.  He was bleeding heavily from his head when the homeowner answered the door. The affidavit said Miller asked the resident of the home to not call the police.  The resident called 9-1-1 while Miller made a call on his cell phone.  The homeowner told sheriff's deputies later that he saw three vehicles drive by his home slowly as if looking for someone. One of the vehicles had the logo "Bitterroot Boys Club" on it.

Miller's injuries included two large lacerations on his head. One wound required 15 staples to suture it shut. 
On Thursday, the staples were very apparent when Miller appeared before Ravalli County Justice Robin Clute on felony charges of burglary and theft. Clute set Miller's bail at $30,000.  The judge set bail for the other four at $200,000 despite repeated pleadings from their attorneys that amount was excessive.  Ravalli County Attorney George Corn asked for the high bail amount, saying the alleged crimes were a "very dangerous situation. This was a case of four on one."  All four men were charged with felony counts of assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping and conspiracy to commit all of the aforementioned felony counts.  In addition, Shoup was charged with felony receipt of stolen property for allegedly accepting marijuana stolen by Miller.  Weis was also charged with felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs for giving a bag of marijuana to another man whom he knew didn't have a medical marijuana card.

Clute required all the men to relinquish their medical marijuana cards and caregiver registrations until the case is resolved. She also ordered Weis, Gassman and Moser to stay away from their businesses while the case is ongoing, which drew strong protests from their attorneys.

Ravalli Republic editor Perry Backus -
Couple of questions come to mind as I read this story. One, the four people charged with this beating are all apparently well known people in their community. A Boy Scout leader, a veteran and a couple of local business people. Does the involvement of “upstanding” citizens in this business actually give the use of marijuana legitimacy with our youth as has been charged by some here in our comment section? Do these crimes substantiate the fears of the folks that have claimed allowing this in Havre will increase crime? Or are these isolated instances and just crimes like any other illegal activity that happens daily?

It is also interesting to note that a gun was involved in the Hamilton story and a reader sent us a question as to the legality of these Medical Marijuana people even owning guns and cited this story from California with their question  Can anyone with some knowledge of the ATF gun laws give our readers some thoughts on this angle? And if they can’t own a gun to protect their business from intruders will this make them more susceptible to being robbed?

We would like to hear your thoughts


  1. In studying for my FFL (Federal Firearms Licence) for my gunsmithing, the form they are talking about in your link does say what the newstory says. The disconnect between state laws and federal laws does exist and until the Federal Government establish some kind of exemption for Medical MaryJane, technically, you can't buy a gun if you are a medical pot user. I haven't asked the local gun stores if they would push the issue but I am sure if you got caught putting inaccurate or misleading information on the ATF form, you would lose your ability to own guns... period. I know that if I was a shop owner and someone asked me about it, at this time, I would have to say no. I wouldn't want to lose my license.


  2. THe only patients i know that have guns only have them for hunting and for sport. i dont know any with handguns though. As far as that goes most potheads dont like guns. Especially handguns. The only reason this gets so much press is because its over LEGAL marijuana. This stuff happens all the time. Some people just steal. Weather its pot or money or percription drugs. Its blown way out of proportion simply because it was medical marijuana. Thousands are getting killed and have been in drug wars for decades. Gimme a break. People are afraid to go to Mexico on vacation because of the recent deaths there. With the robbery; I dont believe in vigilanty justice. They should have left it up to the cops. It should have been treated the same as any other robbery.

  3. Marijuana is not the problem here. The problem is bad people who steal things and hurt people. PERIOD! THATS IT!! THe tittle on this should be "Vigilante justice for burglar". Doesnt matter what as stolen. Fact of the matter is that thiefs are thiefs no matter what they steal.

  4. I agree Shawn. Let's say the same thing the next time an embezzler claims a gambling problem, ok?

  5. What are you talking about GeeGuy? Thats not even close to the same thing. I dont even know how to respond to that. Thats like going out in public and yelling " pickle taco"!! It just makes no sense. Common man. Were talkin about pot here. haha. only a haverite

  6. I don't know, Shawn, I thought I was agreeing with you.

  7. This happens every and anywhere something becomes big news. I would say get used to it, but you would rather outlaw it. Funny thing "where im from today" is that, we dont have this problem, because we have bigger problems. I suppose you would rather have your bigger problems be them damn juveniles eh? Lock em all up. Yeah, Listen up, you cannot have progress without strife. And if you progress, as well as deal with it correctly, well then you dont have as many big problems either. This is a small thing, and bad guys will exist, no matter how much you pretend they dont, or how much you pretend you have them supressed. That, sir, is human nature. Deal with the oxy problem in havre, deal with the economy, then deal with how terrible the marijuana trade is. Like it wasnt there until you decided to pay attention to it... this ignorance is and has been the issue, no matter the issue, good job making it "big news". Personally, i suggest you get real, understand what is actually happening in every place around you, dear reader. Take nothing for face value, and always look beyond the source. That rings more true today, than ever before.

  8. They should really make a font for sarcasm GeeGuy. Thaught thats what i was seeing. haha.

  9. Tony good points,look at the cellphone and driving deaths,its all over the news and a very dangerous habit,yet everyone wants to focus on the Medical marijuana issue.Driving down the road texting all their fellow do gooders about how they are going to rid havre of this terrible scurge on society.

  10. If you were to put NO on Q-11,I think that what I've read on the HIPPA laws,that may trump or at least be an equal argument.

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