A federal prosecution case in Washington may send an entire family to jail for something that’s completely legal in their state.
The “Kettle Falls Five”, as they’ve been dubbed by some in the media, is a group medical marijuana patients in Washington including Larry Harvey, his wife Rhonda, their son Rolland, his wife Michelle, and a family friend named Jason Zucker. Since all five individuals are medical marijuana patients in Washington, they have a legal right to grow and use marijuana on their personal property.
But, as many medical and recreational marijuana growers in Colorado and Washington are discovering, the federal government isn’t too fond of state marijuana laws that conflict their own. The Justice Department continues to conduct raids in search of marijuana in states that legalized various forms of marijuana use.
"It's outrageous that the federal government is wasting money prosecuting five patients who were in total compliance with state law," Rhonda Harvey said. “There is no hidden agenda here. My husband and I are retired, but work hard to live a peaceful, sustainable life in the northeast Washington wilderness. We both have serious health issues and were told by our doctors that medical marijuana could help. All five of us have qualifying conditions, actually, and the garden was below the limit of 15 plants per patient."
None of Harvey’s rationale matters, though, because marijuana is still illegal under federal law. In August, the U.S. attorney overseeing the Harvey’s district said he planned to “vigorously” target marijuana growers “even if such activities are permitted under state law.”
This – surprise, surprise – is another example of the federal government breaking their promise to ease up on marijuana raids and arrests in states where cannabis use is permitted. The Harvey’s attorney said that until the government backs up their promises with actions, their words are meaningless.
"This case is another glaring example of what's wrong with the federal policy on cannabis," said Kari Boiter. "If the Justice Department can continue to aggressively prosecute individual patients without any consequences from the White House, none of these DOJ memos are worth the paper they're printed on."
If convicted, the Harveys could spend up to 40 years in jail.