According to Americans for Safe Access, a new judge has been assigned to the high profile medical marijuana case of the Kettle Falls Five. For those of you that are unaware, the Kettle Falls Five case is an ongoing legal battle between the federal government and a small medical marijuana collective in eastern Washington charged with the illegal manufacturing of marijuana.
While this may seem like a run of the mill court case, in truth there is a lot more at stake the one might realize; and the result of this court case may have sweeping implications for you, your investment and the cannabis industry as a whole.
The collective in question is comprised of only five people, hence the name Kettle Falls Five, and they are as follows: Rhonda Firestack-Harvey; her husband Lee Harvey; Rolland Gregg, Lee and Rhonda’s son; Michelle Gregg, Rolland’s wife; and family friend Jason Zucker.
All five members were medical marijuana patients and the marijuana in question was grown on a 34 acre property where Rhonda Firestack-Harvey and her husband Lee live. It should be noted that this property is far away from any schools, residential zones, churches, and any other zones where marijuana growing is restricted.
During an aerial search in 2012, local authorities spotted the group’s 75 plant outdoor grow operation and promptly raided the property. At first, authorities only confiscated a small number of plants because the collective was over its 45 plant limit. No charges were filed at the time.
One week later the home was once again raided, but by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA confiscated the remaining plants, two motorcycles, three guns, and $700 in petty cash. Charges were not filed against the collective until six months after the second raid.
Charged with growing and distributing 100 or more marijuana plants and possession of firearms used to further the drug trade, members of the Kettle Falls Five each face a minimum of 10 years in prison. While 10 years does not sound too terrible, for 70-year-old Lee Harvey it might as well be 100.
Speaking with Inlander, Harvey expressed his fears of incarceration. “I really think, a guy like me, they throw me in prison and I’m done,” Harvey said. “If they put me in prison, it’s a life sentence for me.” Prison is no cakewalk for a 70-year-old man, and when you realize that Harvey also has a crippling case of gout, you can understand why Harvey is afraid.
With court set for February 23, 2015, the Kettle Falls Five have nearly three more months to prep their defense. Because this is a federal case, they cannot use the argument that they were following state law or that they were growing marijuana to treat their crippling medical conditions. Federal law has no sympathy for the sick, and the government only has to prove that they were growing marijuana.
If the Kettle Falls Five is convicted, a terrible precedent may be set for the rest of the industry. How safe is your investment? You may be insulated from the fluctuating market, but what about the federal government? The Kettle Falls Five case brings to light the frightening gray area of “legal” marijuana, potentially exacerbating fears regarding the market’s safety. We can only hope that justice will be on the side of the Kettle Falls Five in February; otherwise, businesses in this industry might start suffering unjust federal consequences.