Despite Legalization, Eastern Wash. Family Charged With Marijuana Cultivation

Steve Jackson, KPBZ Spokane Public Radio

Even though marijuana has been legalized in Washington State, that hasn’t prevented a Kettle Falls-area family from being charged in Federal court with marijuana manufacturing charges.

Federal DEA agents raided the rural property of 70 year old Larry Harvey and his 55 year old wife Rhonda Firestack-Harvey in August of 2012 and seized 44 immature marijuana plants. The other family members were also charged in the case. All had state authorization to use pot for medicinal purposes.

Kris Hermes of the marijuana advocacy group Americans For Safe Access says the raid came after federal memorandums were issued, that said the government would not crack down on marijuana patients.

Hermes: “There have been 3 memorandums that have come out of the justice department since Obama took office. And in it there were a set of guidelines that they expect producers and distributors to follow. But they made clear in that memo that are not interested in targeting individual patents, but that is exactly what is happening here.”

Hermes says patients who are prosecuted in Federal court do not have the option to claim medical necessity, or by claiming to be in compliance with state marijuana law. The family will attend a pre trial hearing in Spokane on Tuesday. The hearing has been set for May 12th in federal court.

The prosecutor’s office is seeking a ten year mandatory minimum sentence in connection with the case.