MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

3 Medical Marijuana Growers in Washington Get Federal Prison Terms

The remaining defendants in the Kettle Falls Five case receive sentences ranging from 12 to 33 months.

family photofamily photoOn Friday the three remaining defendants in the Kettle Falls Five marijuana case, which involves Washington residents who grew their own medicine in a state that allowed them to do so, were sentenced to federal prison. Rolland Gregg got 33 months—more than two and a half years—while his mother, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, and his wife, Michelle Gregg, each received a one-year sentence. Those terms are much shorter than the potential sentences they faced when their trial started in March, which included a 10-year mandatory minimum. But any prison time at all for growing 70 or so marijuana plants would be anomalous in a state where hundreds of state-licensed businesses, serving recreational consumers as well as patients, openly grow and sell much larger amounts.

Federal prosecutors contended that the Greggs and Firestack-Harvey—together with her husband, Larry Harvey, who died of pancreatic cancer last August, and a family friend, Jason Zucker, who pleaded guilty just before the trial in exchange for a 16-month sentence—were growing marijuana for distribution. But there was little evidence of that. The five of them openly grew their plants outside the home that Rhonda and Larry shared in northeastern Washington, on a plot marked by a sign bearing a large green cross that was visible from the air. They all had doctor's letters recommending marijuana for the treatment of various conditions, including gout, anorexia, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and chronic pain from a broken back. Their plant total was below Washington's presumptive limit of 15 per patient, and prosecutors could not cite a single sale by what they described as a criminal enterprise or any evidence of large illicit profits.

The defense was not allowed to tell the jurors why Gregg et al. were growing marijuana, since federal law makes no distinction between medical and recreational use. But several jurors said during voir dire that they had read press reports about the case, all of which mentioned the medical angle, and by the end of the trial anyone who was paying attention would have figured out what was going on. Presumably that is why the jury acquitted the defendants of almost all the charges against them.

The jury rejected allegations that the defendants distributed marijuana and conspired to do so, that they grew more than 100 plants (the cutoff for a five-year mandatory minimum) over the course of two years, that they used firearms (the Harveys' hunting guns) in connection with a drug crime (another five-year mandatory minimum), and that Firestack-Harvey maintained a place (i.e., the home she shared with her husband) for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing marijuana. The one remaining charge—cultivation of more than 50 but fewer than 100 plants—did not carry a mandatory minimum penalty, leaving U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice wide latitude in sentencing.

The defense asked for probation, while the prosecution recommended 41 to 51 months. Rice, who worked for 25 years in the U.S. attorney's office that brought the Kettle Falls Five case, settled on terms in between. The defendants, who are trying to raise money for their legal expenses, remain free pending their appeals.

U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby's interest in this case was puzzling from the beginning, especially given the relatively small number of plants involved, and seemed to contradict a Justice Department policy that says prosecuting medical marijuana patients who comply with state law is generally not a good use of federal resources. Continued pursuit of the case also seemed to violate a spending rider aimed at stopping federal interference with state medical marijuana laws. Before the rider was approved last year, the DOJ warned that it would have a dramatic impact on federal cultivation and distribution cases; after it was approved, the department suddenly decided it had no impact at all. Rice rejected the argument that the rider compelled Ormsby to drop the Kettle Falls Five case, which is one of the possible grounds for appeal.

Rolland Gregg discusses the case in this video:

More on the Kettle Falls Five here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Pompey||

    2007 Obama simply a lying piece of shit as usual, or are you still evolving on the issue, Mr. President?

  • Pompey||

    Mailan guitar work to chill out the mood, but dammit some we blanket is always gotta be breaking up a good time somewhere.

  • Pompey||

    *wet

  • Ted S.||

    I think you meant Malian. Unless you had this in mind.

  • jrom||

    Our federal crooks just loving sending people to prison on bullshit charges. Except, for government assholes. They can break the law, without any consequences. Most federal workers don't even pay their federal income taxes, and IRS lets it slide.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Zucker got suckered. He ratted and still got more time than the two women.

  • JD3||

    Zucker's testimony did nothing to bolster the prosecution's case.
    In fact, Zucker's "ratting", mirrored exactly what Rolland, Rhonda and Michelle said all along. The story never changed from any of them.
    The prosecuting assholes knew that Zucker was a dead-end and they fucked him with 16 months because he essentially fucked their case.
    Let's not get off track here...the real story is about how the federal government's drug war is complete bullshit and we're living in an ever-growing police state.
    Anyone feeling chipper?

  • Pompey||

    Hard to feel lively, it's right up there with music and dance bans.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    I believe I have read elsewhere that his "ratting" was with permissionm and that everybody knew it would not affect their remaining cases.

  • Steve G||

    If you can't do the time, don't do the comically investigated, arbitrarily enforced, completely OBE "crime"!

  • ||

    Ormsby: "Fuck you because we can."

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    This seems like a good place to talk about proper woodchipper maintenance. I've made sure to stick to this chart, and my chipper is always available when needed. You don't want a situation like this to come up when your woodchipper is on the fritz, do you?

  • geo1113||

    Thank you, JB. I'll keep that in mind. And anyone who needs to borrow the woodchipper should do the "before each use" maintenance before returning said machine to its owner. Common courtesy.

  • Robert||

    Why is machinery like that built to require such frequent maintenance compared to motor vehicles?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Let me be the first to call for some common sense marijuana policies.

  • geo1113||

    Complete legalization without state interference for adults.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So cherrypicking superstitious jurors still serves the purposes of the federal Utilitarian Monster in its attacks on weaker victims. It would be a public service to record the names of the prosecutors and other tools abetting this self-elected dictatorship and place the list into the hands of those victims that survive the incarceration. Sixty-eight years ago another gang of positive christians stood trial for massive rights violations, including war and genocide. They also tattooed their victims with "records" singling them out for abuse. Handcuffed in court they pleaded they were only enforcing National Socialist law passed by elected officials, but they kicked at the end of a noose just the same. Sometimes justice, though exceedingly slow, finds a way.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    +1Bending Arc

  • gaoxiaen||

    Nuremburg, PA welcomes you!

  • Robert||

    I'm not sure that's a good idea. What if some time in the future, people decide we were criminals for just the opposite? It's not a good thing to put people in jeopardy for not knowing how they'll be judged following a regime change. And if they suspect that's the case, they'll fight to the death to keep it from being enforced. Better to allow amnesty to all involved, or there'll be hell to pay in the long run.

  • Robert||

    It's like the people who say, "But they owned slaves!" in condemning so many from the past. And consider the abortion issue; what if abortionists in the future are condemned, and what if anti-abortionists in the future are condemned? I think it's a lot better to leave people alone for doing whatever was considered OK in their environment, and to judge them relative to the avg. of their time & place.

  • ||

    U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby's interest in this case was puzzling from the beginning, especially given the relatively small number of plants involved, and seemed to contradict a Justice Department policy that says prosecuting medical marijuana patients who comply with state law is generally not a good use of federal resources.

    Just another self promoting prosecutor. This was the only case he could find to try and make a name for himself before his time is up and he goes into politics.

  • Rockabilly||

    Disgusting in so many way I can't count them all.

    Look at the rat turd socialist Bernie Sanders' statement -

    Recreational Use of Marijuana

    Bernie wants to learn more about the impact that recreational legalization will have in states such as Colorado in order to determine whether or not he supports it.

    What’s his view on recreational marijuana use?
    Bernie believes that he needs more information about the effects of legalization before he can make an informed opinion about the subject.

    http://feelthebern.org/bernie-.....ug-policy/

    The rat turd wants the central committee to decide what's best for you. Obviously you're a moron and don't know what's best. Central committee must study if further.

  • ethernot||

    So, that's disgusting in like, what, more than three *ways* ... ? (Pro tip: If you use your fingers, you can count all the way to ten, and twenty if you include your toes; but it's probably better if you start with one hand, and work up from there once you get the hang of it--we don't want you to strain anything!)

  • Robert||

    I can't figure out whether you were being ironic or what, but Sanders' drug policy statements are better than probably 98% of other politicians' or pundits'.

    The glaringly odd thing is that he would treat all drug offenders (which would include those who are in the biz but don't use the drugs) as needing rx for drug dependence. Still, better a phony, unnecessary rx than incarcer'n.

    His statement about Colo. looks much more favorable than you've "rat turd" characterized it as.

  • Suicidy||

    If there were no progressives, so much of this can go away. Is this a good time to discuss my plan to euthanize all the progressives?

  • Robert||

    U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby's interest in this case was puzzling from the beginning,


    I suspect it's just a practically random selection just to show they still could. Like when Bluebeard shot one of his accomplices just for show.

  • Dread Pirate Roberts||

    Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Scienfoology Song… GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

    Government loves me, This I know,
    For the Government tells me so,
    Little ones to GAWD belong,
    We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
    Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
    Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
    And gives me all that I might need!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    DEA, CIA, KGB,
    Our protectors, they will be,
    FBI, TSA, and FDA,
    With us, astride us, in every way!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

  • AlgerHiss||

    Jury nullification: A sorely needed remedy.

  • sharonphillips||

    I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h… Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link... Try it, you won't regret it!......

    www.HomeJobs90.Com

  • sharonphillips||

    I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h… Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link... Try it, you won't regret it!......

    www.HomeJobs90.Com

  • RichPaul||

    I wish that Reason published the phone numbers of the dirtbags in the Prosecutors Office, so we could call them and register our opinion!

  • Expert5th||

    Packers and Movers in Bangalore @
    http://www.expert5th.in/packer.....bangalore/
    Packers and Movers in Pune @
    http://www.expert5th.in/packers-and-movers-pune/

  • Expert5th||

    Packers and Movers India @ http://www.expert5th.in/
    Packers and Movers in Hyderabad @
    http://www.expert5th.in/packer.....hyderabad/

  • Expert5th||

    Expert Packers and Movers Chennai @
    http://www.expert5th.in/packer.....s-chennai/
    Expert Packers and Movers Mumbai @
    http://www.expert5th.in/packers-and-movers-mumbai/

  • RobertFarrior||

    The tyranny must be ended!
    robertsrevolution.net

  • jrom||

    Prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement are overpaid crooks in most cases.

  • Al Sharpton||

    Another opportunity for Jury Nullification gone to the wind.

  • nanda99||

    Nice information.. Good that they are sentenced for long time in prison. Great work by cops.

    Check here for State Bank of India IFSC codes of Mumbai Branches below:

    Dhaula Devi, Greater Mumbai Bombay
    SBI bank Dhaula Devi branch ifsc code is SBIN0008967 as per the RBI data and MICR code is 263002122. Want to contact Sbi bank customer care department? here is the phone number 05962-271025 for Sbi Dhaula Devi.

    Mazgaon Dock, Greater Mumbai Bombay
    SBI bank Mazgaon Dock branch ifsc code is SBIN0009054 as per the RBI data and MICR code is 400002120. Want to contact Sbi bank customer care department? here is the phone number 022-23752802 FAX : 23750758 IP 102651 for Sbi Mazgaon Dock. See here http://www.sbiifsccode.co.in/SBIN0009054 for more details about this branch.

    Vihar Lake, Mumbai, Greater Mumbai Bombay
    SBI bank Vihar Lake, Mumbai branch ifsc code is SBIN0009055 as per the RBI data and MICR code is 400002117. Want to contact Sbi bank customer care department? here is the phone number 022-28575099 for Sbi Vihar Lake, Mumbai.

    Diamond Branch, Greater Mumbai Bombay
    SBI bank Diamond Branch branch ifsc code is SBIN0009276 as per the RBI data and MICR code is 400002119. Want to contact Sbi bank customer care department? here is the phone number IP-102439, 022-23891778 for Sbi Diamond Branch.

  • Trinity1000||

    Trinity Medical Marijuana offers top quality medical marijuana, seeds and cannabis oil at affordable prices. For more info please visit our website www.trinitymedicalmarijuanastore.org or call or text us directly at 917 725 7722 . email: info.trinitymedicalmarijuana@gmail.com,.,.,

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online