Member Of Kettle Falls Five Sentenced To 16 Months In Jail For Marijuana Operation

WASHINGTON:  A federal judge rejected the medical marijuana defense of a member of the so-called “Kettle Falls Five” growing family and sentenced Jason Lee Zucker on Friday to 16 months in prison.

“There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice said. “There is no such thing in federal law.”

Zucker is the first to be sentenced in the case. He pleaded guilty the day before trial began in March and testified for the federal government against Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg, saying he twice brought more than 70 plants from his home in Seattle to the Harvey property in rural Stevens County in 2011 and 2012. Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard said Friday Zucker’s testimony was “integral” to obtaining convictions against his co-defendants and urged the lighter sentence. He could have been sent to federal prison for five years.

Lawyers Make Closing Arguments, Verdict Expected Soon In Eastern Washington Medical Marijuana Case

WASHINGTON:  After nearly four days of questioning witnesses and showing dozens of photos and videos, lawyers in the case of the so-called “Kettle Falls Five” made their closing arguments Monday afternoon. The government will get one more chance this morning to rebut the defense’s arguments and then the case will be handed over to the jury.

This is the widely watched case that I just wrote this feature about—an Eastern Washington court showdown that’s pitting Washington State laws allowing medical marijuana against black-and-white federal drug laws that classify pot as more dangerous than drugs like cocaine and meth.

The basic facts in this case:  A group of five medical marijuana patients—Rhonda and Larry Harvey, Rhonda’s son Rolland Gregg and his wife Michelle, and their family friend Jason Zucker—grew 74 plants on the Harveys’ property two hours northwest of Spokane. (Just three of them remain defendants in the case now, since the government dropped the charges against Larry, who’s battling late-stage cancer, and cut a deal with Zucker.)

While state law limits patient collectives to 45 plants, it also allows individual patients to grow 15 plants, so the the defendants say they thought they were allowed a total of 75 plants (5 people x 15 plants each). In August of 2012, Sheriff’s office detectives raided the home, cut them down to the 45 plants allowed, and left, only to turn the case over to the DEA, which led its own raid a week later.