Lucas Sirois exits the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor after his first court appearance on charges related to an alleged conspiracy to use medical marijuana grow houses in western Maine to illegally sell $13 million of the drug in and out of Maine. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The Farmington man accused of running an illegal $13 million operation selling medical marijuana on the black market is asking a federal judge to drop the charges because federal law prevents using resources to prosecute people in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Prosecutors claim that Lucas Sirois, 43, who is licensed to grow medical marijuana, and his co-defendants sold the pot illegally in Maine and other states, then laundered the money through various businesses.

Sirois is one of more than a dozen people and three businesses charged in connection with the marijuana operation. He has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, two counts of bank fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service and tax evasion.

Joining Lucas Sirois in seeking dismissal of the indictment are his estranged wife Alisa Sirois, 44, of Kingfield and his father Robert Sirois, 69, of Farmington. Other defendants have not joined them.

Alisa Sirois, a licensed medical marijuana caregiver, is charged with being part of the conspiracies to manufacture and distribute marijuana and launder the proceeds, along with bank fraud. The elder Sirois, who is banned from handling marijuana because he is a convicted felon, is charged in the drug conspiracy. Both have denied the charges.

In a motion to dismiss, Lucas Sirois’ New York City attorney, Timothy C. Parlatore, argued that Congress, “has taken steps to ensure that federal law enforcement does not interfere with the state’s decision to implement medical marijuana laws by prohibiting the Department of Justice from using any funds appropriated by Congress to prosecute medical marijuana businesses that are operating in accordance with state law.”

“The government is currently prosecuting defendant Lucas Sirois and various co-defendants for actions they took that are and were in compliance with the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, in direct violation of this congressional prohibition, and should therefore be enjoined,” Parlatore continued.

The attorneys for the Sirois family maintain the operation was in compliance with the law and rules that govern the growth and distribution of medical marijuana that were in place in 2019, when the operation became a target of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigation.

The U.S. Attorney’s office that is prosecuting the case claims that the Sirois’ operation violated state and federal laws and are not shielded from prosecution.

“Sirois and his co-defendants cannot avail themselves of that safe harbor here,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah Falk and Andrew McCormack said in their response to the motion to dismiss. “They cannot establish that they were in substantial compliance with Maine law, given the breadth and depth of the conduct.”

The investigation that led to charges filed in October 2021 began in 2018, when Maine’s federal drug task force learned from a defendant in an illegal marijuana operation based in the Lewiston/Auburn area that there was a similar operation in Farmington, Maine State Police Detective Justin Huntley testified Monday. He now investigates homicides but was part of a DEA task force until recently.

Huntley said that one of Sirois’ former employees came forward to talk about his alleged illegal activities. The defense team claims the informant is a disgruntled employee who was fired for alleged criminal activity.

Sirois continues to be a licensed medical marijuana grower and caregiver, according to Vernon Malloch, deputy director of operations for the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy, as he has not been convicted of a crime. Malloch testified Monday the operation is in compliance with Maine law.

Six co-defendants, who have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case, are listed as witnesses for the prosecution at the hearing.

The motion hearing is scheduled to last all week. There is no timeline under which U.S. District Judge Lance Walker must issue a decision. Whatever he decides most likely will be appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by the losing side.

Lucas Sirois’ attorney made news last month when it was reported that Parlatore had left the legal team representing former President Donald Trump in the investigation into his alleged removal of classified documents from the White House. According to CNN, Parlatore organized searches for classified documents last year at Trump properties. He left the team for personal reasons, according to news reports.