WASHINGTON: Jurors Tuesday began deciding a case that marijuana-legalization advocates hope is one of the last of its kind: A federal prosecution of medical marijuana users.
The 12-member federal jury is deciding the fate of three members of a group known as the “Kettle Falls Five,” who in 2012 were caught growing marijuana on property belonging to Larry Harvey and his wife. A grand jury indicted Harvey and his wife, their son, daughter-in-law and a family friend, charging them with illegally growing and distributing marijuana in the forest outside their northeastern Washington home.
The group claimed they were growing the marijuana for their personal medical use — Harvey has advanced pancreatic cancer — and invoked protections under Washington state’s medical marijuana laws. All had doctors’ recommendations for medical marijuana use.
But federal prosecutors have continued pressing the case, arguing that federal law makes no exemption for medical use, and that the amounts the group had far exceeded personal use. Police seized more than 8 pounds of marijuana from the home. Because it’s a federal prosecution, Judge Thomas Rice has barred the defendants from even mentioning “medical marijuana” as a defense.