Montgomery was growing
marijuana in a rented house. The police found it, and arrested Montgomery
for possession with intent to distribute, 100 or more marijuana plants. (21
U.S.C. §841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B) & 18 U.S.C. §2).
At the house, Montgomery had
99 marijuana plants, as well as two 'mother plants' that he was using to
produce clippings to make more plants.
The jury found Montgomery
guilty, but the Trial Court granted Montgomery's motion for a judgment of
acquittal. The prosecution appealed.
The Trial Court found that
Montgomery did not "intend to distribute" the two "mother
plants." Therefore he only had 99 plants he "intended to
distribute" and didn't violate the particular law he was charged
The Appellate Court reversed
and reinstated the jury's guilty verdict.
The Appellate Court found
that the Trial Court's interpretation was not supported by the plain
language of the Statute; hence, the Trial
Court evaluated the evidence using an incorrect legal standard and came
to an incorrect result.
The Court looked to the
wording of §841(a)(1):
"involvingÉ100 or more marijuana plants regardless of weight,"
and attempted to discern the meaning of "involving."
The Court found that the
mother plants were clearly part of the operation, and as such they were
"involved" in the distribution scheme, even if there was no
intent to distribute the mother plants directly.
The Court looked to a few
prior cases and found that there was a precedent that or plants for
personal use did not count as being "involved." But in this
case, the precedent didn't apply because the "mother plants"
were being used in the distribution scheme.