No one seems to dispute that Lance Gloor was in the marijuana business.
But the scale and legality of his involvement is now up to a federal jury to decide.
Gloor, 37, is one of three people indicted in connection to several Puget Sound medical marijuana dispensaries.
He sold pot “not because he was trying to help people, but because of the money,” Assistant United States Attorney Marci Ellsworth said during closing statements at Gloor’s trial Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
He was charged in 2013 with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to commit money laundering, manufacturing marijuana, and gun possession related to drug trafficking.
Co-defendants James Lucas and Matthew Roberts pleaded guilty in January 2015 to conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and Lucas also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Both await sentencing.
Defense attorney Karen Unger told the jury Wednesday that Gloor operated the Key Peninsula Cross and Lacey Cross dispensaries independently from the co-defendants, who she said ran Tacoma Cross and Seattle Cross.
Lucas gave Gloor seed money to start the two locations, Unger said, but she argued they didn’t conspire together to distribute marijuana.
“Lance was on his own, sink or swim,” she said during the trial, heard by Judge Ronald Leighton.
Prosecutors allege Gloor used profits from the dispensaries to support a lavish lifestyle, including a $500,000 house in Gig Harbor that he leased under a rent-to-own agreement, and a several-month stint living at a local hotel.
Eventually, he moved to Las Vegas, where prosecutors say he operated the dispensaries remotely, and had employees send him marijuana from Washington and deposit proceeds into other people’s bank accounts for him to access.
“He kept skimming the profits to support his high roller lifestyle,” Ellsworth said.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but special agent Dan Olson with the Drug Enforcement Agency testified at Gloor’s trial that in 2011 investigators in Western Washington started using a set of criteria for which dispensaries they target, such as focusing on large-scale operations, ones near schools and those that cross state lines.
After raids that were part of the investigation in 2011, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement: “As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment. However, state laws of compassion were never intended to protect brash criminal conduct that masquerades as medical treatment.”
According to their trial brief, prosecutors estimated all the Cross dispensaries distributed and planned to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, which is more than allowed by state law, and that they grossed about $8 million over two years.
Unger argued Gloor’s finances were not secret, and that the businesses paid taxes, had payroll checks, and at one point took credit cards and had an automatic teller machine.
“This was done out in the public,” she said.