Patient Advocates Call On President Obama to Pardon All Defendants and Fully End Federal Prosecution of Medical Cannabis Patients

Spokane, WA – Earlier today Rhonda Firestack-Harvey and Michelle Gregg were sentenced to one year and a day in connection to federal cannabis cultivation charges. Fellow defendant Rolland Gregg received a sentence of 33 months. All three were released pending appeal. In March the trio was acquitted of all crimes they were initially charged with, except for the “lesser included” charge of cannabis cultivation.  The defendants were arrested in August of 2012 after the Drug Enforcement Agency seized cannabis plants on their property, which had been grown for medical purposes. They were barred from raising a medical necessity defense, despite Washington State law allowing for the cultivation of medical cannabis.

“Jail time for the Kettle Falls defendants is an embarrassment to the judicial system,” said Americans for Safe Access Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We’re calling on President Obama to pardon all three defendants immediately.”

Following the DEA raid charges were brought against Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg as well as Larry Harvey and Jason Zucker. Charges were dropped against Larry Harvey who had been diagnosed with Stage IV terminal pancreatic cancer, but only a matter of days before the case went to trial, several months after his cancer diagnosis. Zucker pleaded guilty and received a 16 month sentence earlier this year after cooperating with the prosecution, although he remains free pending an appeal of his sentence.

“This case is exactly the type of wasteful and misguided use of the federal government’s prosecutorial powers that Congress has moved rein in with the Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Cannabis Amendment,” said ASA Press Secretary Christopher Brown. “Congress and the public have unambiguously rejected federal interference in state medical cannabis programs.  It’s long past time to end to the federal prosecution of medical cannabis cases and instead focus limited prosecutorial resources towards fighting harmful criminal activity in our communities.”

Last year the Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment was signed into law by President Obama. The amendment bans the Department of Justice from spending money to prevent the implementation of state-level medical cannabis programs, removing funding for federal medical cannabis raids, arrests and prosecutions in states where medical cannabis is legal. Earlier this year the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment by an overwhelming margin of 242 to 186. The amendment was also passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a margin of 22-8. Amendment authors Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) cited “criminal prosecutions, like the recent Kettle Falls case in Washington” as a motivation for the medical cannabis amendment in an April 8th, 2015 letter to then Attorney General Eric Holder. Rohrbacher and Farr have also called on the Inspector General's Office to launch an investigation into violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act for raids and prosecutions of state-legal medical cannabis activities protected under the medical cannabis amendment.