Washington Pot Growers Facing Federal Charges – Could Be Landmark Case
How ironic - five Kettle Falls, WA people are being charged with federal drug crimes in a state where marijuana is now legal.
Known as the Kettle Falls 5, these citizens have been accused by the feds of growing 68 plants. And since they own guns because they live in rural areas surrounded by bears and wild animals, they're being accused to running a drug ring!
According to NW Cable News Network:
'Larry Harvey, 70, one of the defendants in the federal case, told USA TODAY Network that he never sold any marijuana -- "not a bit of it" -- and the pot he grew was for personal medical use.
Harvey and the four other defendants, including his wife and his wife's son, said they grew 68 marijuana plants on his 38-acre property in rural eastern Washington. The five patients were sharing resources to grow marijuana plants in a single garden."
Even though marijuana is now legal, and Washington has some 100,000 medical marijuana patients, the federal government can still exercise "discretion," meaning people who may be following STATE laws could still be federally prosecuted!
The controversy started in August 2012, when a sheriff came to Harvey's house to cut down some of his plants. He claimed the group was violating the medical marijuana law allowing only 45 plants in a collective co-op. Harvey said he thought they were within the law that allows 15 plants per person. The 68 plants would be below the total of 75 allowed between 5 people.
The sheriff then informed the DEA, who showed up, took all his plants as well as 8 guns Harvey says he used for hunting and protection from wild animals such as bears and bobcats. If convicted following his July 28th trial, Harvey could face a minimum sentence of 10 years. Medical marijuana cannot be used as a defense in federal court, because the drug is still classified as illegal at the federal level.
Defense attorneys and pro-medical marijuana advocates say the judicial system is set up for defendants to fail and lose every time because of these rules. They also say this case could set precedent, in that people who might be perfectly legal under state laws could still be punished by the federal government.
So far, about 30 agricultural growers have received official licenses from the state to grow the pot for recreational marijuana that will be sold in state-run stores. It is NOT known if the federal government will go after these large scale producers.
Imagine if the licensed pot grower out near Benton City gets raided by the DEA, his crop confiscated and destroyed, and he gets thrown in jail. Legal experts say that possibility is a "cloud" that's hanging over Washington and Colorado, and ANY other medical marijuana user in the U.S.
This incident isn't just about marijuana, medical or recreational. This is yet another example of a growing, over-reaching federal bureaucracy stepping on the toes and rights of states citizens and their freedoms. To us at Newstalk 870, this isn't that different than the Bundy Ranch standoff. The details and situations may be different, but the principles are the same.
Federal prosecutors have refused to discuss the case with the media. Surprised?