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State v. Owens

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 20, 2019

State of Minnesota, Plaintiff,
v.
Ronald Dale Owens, Defendant, Laura Lynn Bultman, Defendant.

          Wright County District Court File Nos. 86-CR-17-500, 86-CR-17-499

          Keith Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Thomas N. Kelly, Wright County Attorney, Shane E. Simonds, Assistant County Attorney, Buffalo, Minnesota (for the state)

          Paul Engh, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for defendant Bultman)

          Ryan Garry, Elizabeth Duel, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for defendant Owens)

          Considered and decided by Reyes, Presiding Judge; Hooten, Judge; and Cochran, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Wholly owned subsidiaries of the same parent corporation are separate "persons" under Minn. Stat. § 152.33, subd. 1 (2014).

          OPINION

          HOOTEN, JUDGE

         Following its ruling on defendants' motions to dismiss, the district court certified the question: are sister wholly owned subsidiaries of the same parent company one "person," such that a transfer of cannabis oil from one subsidiary to the other cannot violate Minn. Stat. § 152.33, subd. 1 (2014). We answer this certified question in the negative.

         FACTS

         For purposes of this appeal, the parties stipulate to the following facts alleged in the complaint. Minnesota Medical Solutions LLC (MMS) is one of two companies in Minnesota that is allowed to manufacture and distribute medical marijuana. MMS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vireo Health LLC (VH). VH also wholly owns another subsidiary, Vireo Health of New York LLC (VHNY), which produces and distributes medical marijuana in the state of New York.

         At the time of the events alleged in the complaint, defendant Ronald Dale Owens was the Chief Security Officer for MMS. Defendant Laura Lynn Bultman, M.D., was the Chief Medical Officer of MMS.

         In December of 2015, defendants discovered that VHNY could not produce a sufficient amount of medical marijuana to satisfy the requirements set by the state of New York. To supply this need in New York, defendants personally transferred 5.6 kilograms of concentrated cannabis oil, a derivative of marijuana containing its active ingredient, from MMS to VHNY in an armored truck. To effectuate this transfer, defendants falsified inventory records for both MMS and VHNY.

         The state charged defendants with intentionally transferring medical cannabis to a person other than allowed by law, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.33, subd. 1. Defendants filed individual motions to dismiss, each arguing as a matter of law that they could not have violated the statute because the transfer of cannabis oil to VHNY was not a transfer to a different "person." The district ...


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