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Federal Judge Rejects Effort To Imprison Defendants Pending Sentencing


kettle falls five federal medical marijuanaJust one week after three medical marijuana patients were acquitted by a federal jury of all but one charge stemming from the widely watched Kettle Falls Five trial, US District Court Judge Thomas Rice rejected attempts by the Justice Department (DOJ) to imprison the defendants pending sentencing on June 10th. Judge Rice’s ruling comes just a day after defense attorneys filed their opposition to the government’s pre-sentencing detention effort.

The DOJ remains aggressive in its attempts to lock up the three family members, filing an emergencyrequest for detention just one day after the jury reached its verdict. Apparently unsatisfied with a hearing on April 3rd, more than two months before the defendants’ sentencing date, US Attorney Michael Ormsby filed a motion to expedite the detention hearing. Judge Rice granted the DOJ’s request for an expedited hearing, then promptly denied the government’s motion to imprison defendants Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 56, her son Rolland Gregg, 33, and daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 36, who remain free until sentencing on June 10th at 10am.

“Instead of reevaluating its approach after failing to convict on almost all charges, the DOJ doubled down and tried to imprison the remaining three Kettle Falls Five defendants as they await sentencing,” said Kris Hermes, spokesperson with patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “The DOJ appears unwilling to reverse course after being told by Congress to curtail its medical marijuana enforcement efforts, and sees no problem spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do so.”

In an unexpected verdict, a jury from eastern Washington State acquitted the three Kettle Falls Five defendants of all but one charge of manufacturing on a lesser-included charge of under 100 marijuana plants, which does not carry a mandatory minimum sentence. In a prosecution that lasted more than two years and used up over $2 million in resources, including a week-long trial, the DOJ aggressively pursued drug trafficking charges against a family of medical marijuana patients who were growing for themselves in full compliance with Washington State law.

Before the trial even began, the federal government agreed to dismiss charges against Larry Harvey, 71, the husband of Firestack-Harvey who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Co-defendant and family friend Jason Zucker, 39, took a plea deal one day before trial began and agreed to testify for the government against the three remaining defendants in exchange for a felony conspiracy conviction and a recommended sentence of 16 months. Zucker will be sentenced on June 17th at 9am.

In August 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the Harvey property in rural Washington State near the town of Kettle Falls and seized 68 marijuana plants, charging the five defendants with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, manufacture and distribution of marijuana, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Because the Kettle Falls Five defendants were acquitted of all charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence, they could receive less than a year in prison or possibly probation. If sentenced to prison time, however, Firestack-Harvey will no longer be able to care for her ailing husband whose cancer has spread to his liver. “If Rhonda goes to prison, I don’t know who will take care of me,” said Larry Harvey.

Further information:
Federal Judge Thomas Rice decision denying DOJ effort to imprison Kettle Falls Five defendants as they await sentencing

Source: Americans for Safe Accessmake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. The cops are not the problem. Most cops are good and honest people just doing their jobs. The problem is a broken system that has marihuana improperly classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Pot is not the problem that cocaine or meth are, yet the Federal government places those drugs in Schedule 2.

    Attitudes are changing and the law is following. It might take a while, but it will be legal sooner or later.

    My only real question is what you do with the millions of people (primarily black, low income, and low education levels) that are currently locked up for marijuana and marijuana related crimes. These men had their youth stolen by bad drug policy and will need a lot of help adjusting to life on the “outside”.

  2. Because they were found guilty on one charge, so they had due process and their day in court. The DOJ is being stupid. The people of Washington and a jury of their peers sent a message. The rest of the nation needs to send that same message.

    And the judge got it right by both granting the expedite hearing and denying the motion.

  3. I’d venture to guess that a very large number of rank-and-file cops think busting marijuana users is a complete waste of their time. (But they have mortgages and responsibilities… and the peer pressure to conform is as strong for them as it is for you guys who are replying to me, here. So, they keep playing their part in this failed Drug War.)

    If we could end the drug war (and the related police militarization, asset forfeiture, and corruption), we might actually be able to get back to a time when the police were (mostly) valued and the law was (mostly) respected. If you don’t see that as a desirable outcome, I’m afraid that makes you part of the problem.

  4. ĐΣFΣCŦΣĐ on

    People who makes the most profit off misery. Obama is for the poor, but punishes the poor. Obama against war, but produces more war. Obama hates guns, but gives them to dangerous thugs. Obama calls for black males to become something, but locks them up for penniless crimes.

    The government is nothing more than a game of cards.

  5. P.S. I didn’t breach Godwin’s law I utilized it. If ever there was a situation that warranted Godwin’s your drivel fits the bill perfectly.

  6. Nice side step there. Yes Jews should always hate NAZIs. And until the few good cops stand up to the corrupt ones they will continue to be stigmatized right along with the bad ones.

  7. No one does, marijuana should be exempt from the kind of regulations we have on prescription medications.

  8. Yes, he’s speaking as if this was a REAL war in which both sides committed atrocities. What I do in the privacy of my own home is not an attack on anyone. Anti drug laws have given us a corrupt, cruel, unjust, un american, criminal justice system, that victimizes honest, descent American citizens. When we do finally regain our civil liberties, the police and prosecutors who enjoyed oppressing us must go.

  9. And I agree with you, too. (Despite your breach of Godwin’s Law.)

    Is it your assertion that, forever, all Jews should hate all Germans?

    At the end of any war, the two sides have to get past the hatred of the past. No, this is not a “normal” war, and, yes, there are many very one-sided aspects to this “war”. Like most wars, one side started it, and the other side had little choice in the matter. My point has nothing to do with any of those things. My point is that if “we” hate them and “they” hate us, that only feeds into the mindset that continues this pointless war.

    For this dreadful business to truly and quickly come to an end:

    Cops (and the public) need to stop stigmatizing and dehumanizing all drug users. (Some of whom do very bad things.)

    Drug users need to stop stigmatizing all cops. (Some of whom do very bad things.)

    If you think that no cops are trapped and essentially victimized by the Drug War, try reading the new book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.

    Very little of this (admittedly atrocious) Drug War is as black and white as it seems… to those on both sides.

  10. Dan Bonito according to your interpretation it could be said the Jews were part of the problem in the holocaust. You know the whole both sides are a problem thing. I guess they should have changed their attitude towards the nazis? See how ridiculous your assumption is?….I sure hope so.

  11. The cops are the problem period. Your summation purposing two sides to the problem is ridiculous.

  12. Cops are among the biggest supporters of marijuana prohibition, so my sympathy is limited. Here’s an example from the Orlando Sentinel…

    “Sheriffs take lead against legalizing medical pot”

    May 1, 2014

    Florida’s proposed medical marijuana amendment finally has a coordinated statewide opposition, led by the Florida Sheriffs Association and including a coalition of law enforcement and substance abuse groups.


  13. That’s fair enough (and of course I agree with you).

    But, this war still has two sides. Both the cops and the stoners will have to change their attitudes toward one another for there to be an actual “peace” at the end of this thing.

    And, in any case, many cops have been killed, too, in this colossal failure we call the War on Drugs. Nobody’s winning, that’s for sure.

  14. That sounds very logical and righteous, except this war is completely one- sided. It’s an attack on our civil liberties that we already earned in battle. The only weapons we have are our voices, tax dollars, and votes.

  15. It’s not guilty until proven innocent, it’s suposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Why is the Justice Department ignoring what there bosses what done.why are they making there own rules and dictating there own laws.?

  16. I remember a time when the vast majority of Americans supported the police, the prosecutors and the law in general.

    Over and over and over, these despicable cases of prosecutorial overreach (and others of police abuse and misconduct) simply make people lose respect for the law and for authority in general.

    This Drug War, like any other war, is only going to be able to truly end when both sides are willing to stop thinking, “We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys.” People on both sides are just people. There have been bad cops and bad marijuana users (and good prosecutors and good drug users).

    Man, this devastating war has got to end. Soon.

  17. No argument about the DOJ, or specifically the US Attorney who is leading this case, but I think you have to admit the situation has improved substantially in the last six years. Sadly, this case proves there are still plenty of federal, state and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors who simply will not (or cannot) change their views, in spite of overwhelming evidence.

  18. The DOJ has reached a new low by trying to imprison the caretaker of a stage iv cancer patient. Hell is too good for you, Eric Holder and lackeys.

  19. I am pretty pissed that Eric Holder has not stepped in and demanded his employees to step down. The duplicity of a DOJ memo and what is actually happening just makes my blood boil.
    Granted it was a memo [Holder and the top rung did not want to place the D.E.A. in a compromised position], but it still should have held enough weight to discontinue trials of this nature.
    The continued waste of tax dollars on trials, where marijuana is legal, is simply criminal.

  20. we need to do a lot more than just fire them. we need to take their money which was won by our blood and tears, we need to take their property which was won thru our persecution. we need to treat them like the Nazis they are. hang the ring leaders and send the troops to prison. when are we going to liberate our POW brothers and sisters?

  21. I’m elated that the DOJ’s underhanded attempts were thwarted by the Judge. I wonder if the FEDS will ever “get” the will of the people that it actually works for.

  22. ĐΣFΣCŦΣĐ on

    Yeah not going to happen. More money to made on the suffering of his “people”

  23. This is the kind of cruelty that we need to expunge from the criminal justice system. These people are no threat to society. We need to fire everyone in the system that ever pursued this kind of inhumane treatment.

  24. YOU try to get him to claim he’s “half-white” w/o it serving HIS purpose in another situation.

  25. ĐΣFΣCŦΣĐ on

    well Obama is half white. So who knows. He can hate white and black at the same time. Kind of like the politicians of today.

  26. What I want to know is why Obama hasn’t ended the War on Black People aka the War On Drugs? Maybe he doesn’t like Black people.

  27. Despite the fraudulent scheduling of cannabis the DEA is out out control we need to do a complete audit from top top bottom and polygraph every one as to how they have blatant block all legitimate research for there own greed of power. Let have some pension forfeitures.

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