Federal judge postpones "Kettle Falls Five" medical marijuana trial

Jacob Jones, The Inlander

A highly anticipated federal medical marijuana trial against a family dubbed the “Kettle Falls Five” scheduled to begin today will now wait until at least February following a continuance from the new judge taking over the case. The new trial date is set for Feb. 23.

Larry Harvey, 70, one of the defendants, filed a speedy trial waiver today, asking for more time to coordinate witnesses. Federal agents charged Harvey and others with illegally manufacturing marijuana after spotting his personal grow operation near Colville during an aerial search in 2012.

“If they put me in prison, it’s a life sentence for me,” says Harvey, who faces a sentence of at least 10 years if convicted.

In October, the Inlander wrote extensively about the Harvey case and the existing conflicts between state and federal law on marijuana. Many other publications as well as advocacy groups have singled out the Kettle Falls Five case as an example of the troubling legal gray areas surrounding marijuana legalization.

Marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access also issued a news release today saying an upcoming U.S. Senate measure could shift DOJ practices on medical marijuana cases, revoking funding for such prosecutions.

Federal Judge Thomas Rice recently handed down the continuance after taking over for Judge Fred Van Sickle last month.