United States v. Montgomery
468 F.3d 715 (2006)

  • 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 with.
  • 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.