Federal Government Targets Five Individuals Allegedly Growing Medical Marijuana In Washington State Including 70 Year Old Patient Who Faces 10 Years Imprisonment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the GodfatherThe confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice is prosecuting five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing sixty-eight medical marijuana plants in a private collective. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son.

What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-eight acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claims to be a “death sentence.”

What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years.

Federal prosecutors allege the five were conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana and possession of firearms in relation to drug trafficking. The defendants deny they intended to distribute the marijuana and claim they grow the marijuana for their own usage. They face a minimum of ten years imprisonment if convicted on all charges.

Larry Harvey
Larry Harvey

According to Americans for Safe Access, a group that advocates cannabis for medicinal and research use, 100,000 Washingtonians use medical marijuana. Presently there are about thirty state licensed retail marijuana growers who are permitted under state law to grow thousands of plants for distribution to eventually several hundred licensed marijuana retailers.

But there has been irregular enforcement and ambiguity with regard to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Office of the US Attorney. The office posted guidelines in August of 2013 listing priorities and what resources the federal government would consider in whether to prosecute marijuana grows or uses. A copy of this guideline can be found HERE

Within this memorandum one of the guidelines seems to be permissive on this incident:

The Department’s previous memoranda specifically addressed the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in states with laws authorizing marijuana cultivation and distribution for medical use. In those contexts, the Department advised that it is likely was not an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals, or on their individual caregivers. In doing so, the previous guidance drew a distinction between the seriously ill and their caregivers, on the one hand, and large-scale, for-profit commercial enterprises, on the other, and advised that the latter continued to be appropriate targets for federal enforcement and prosecution. In drawing this distinction, the Department relied on the common-sense judgment that the size of a marijuana operation was a reasonable proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the federal enforcement priorities set forth above.

The memorandum does not confer any rights or defenses, according to its wording, but purports itself to be a guide to prosecutions and delegation of federal resources.

The underlying incident that brought about this prosecution, reportedly ready for trial in June, allegedly happened in August of 2012 when a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the home of 70 year old Larry Harvey to cut down SOME of his marijuana plants, telling the patients state law only allows forty five plants among a collective grow. The plants originally were alleged to have been sixty eight in number. Mr. Harvey stated he believed he was in compliance because under Washington’s Medical Marijuana Laws, a medical marijuana patient is permitted to grow fifteen plants themselves and among the five of them, they should have been permitted to grow seventy five plants.

Apparently, the sheriff’s office then notified the federal DEA which then arrived at Larry’s home, seized his marijuana plants along with eight of his firearms.

Larry HarveyEssentially Larry is put into this jeopardy of his freedom because of numbers. According to Washington Law he could not have more than forty five plants in one collective but if he had instead divided the garden into three areas, perhaps leasing the land to the other defendants, he would have been in compliance. But, since he was allegedly out of compliance the DEA went after them. If the deputy in this case would have recognized this was simply a misinterpretation of the law, according to Larry, a teachable moment might have corrected the matter. Why the DEA was called is unknown. But along with this alleged numbers game, the DEA drew in to the firearms issue to rack up another potential five year penalty.

What do you think?

By Darren Smith


US Department of Justice

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

52 thoughts on “Federal Government Targets Five Individuals Allegedly Growing Medical Marijuana In Washington State Including 70 Year Old Patient Who Faces 10 Years Imprisonment”

  1. It’s more than outrageous to accuse Holder of accepting bribes by the Mexican cartel. Unless of course you can post some certification.

  2. Paul Schulte


    @Paul Schulte “Look guys, there is a guy in England who is having his newly built 500k house torn down because it is 6″ higher than his permit allowed for.

    I read that article. Your description isn’t really accurate.
    Simms – thanks for the correction. I feel like the guys from Spinal Tap and the 18″ Stonehenge.

    You feel with your hands eh?

    Dredd – I am empathetic.
    It is not genetic either.

  3. Poorly worded. Only Bubba and Holder were in favor of the Rich pardon. Left, right and center were appalled.

  4. Simms, He didn’t care when EVERYONE but Bill Clinton was in favor of the Marc Rich pardon. Holder is dirty. I would not put it past him taking Cartel money.

  5. You would think that Holder would realize he is doing something wrong when both the lefties and the righties are against his policies.

  6. It does not sound like they are using prosecutorial discretion. When they legalize marijuana under certain circumstances, there are bound to be misunderstandings.

    Af first I thought 38 acres were planted, the entire parcel, but only 75 plants is a different matter.

    And it sounds like the zero tolerance firearm rule needs to be addressed, as there is typically a high rate of gun ownership in rural areas. I know there are a lot of black bears in Washington; I’ve seen them myself. I don’t know if their property was in bear country, but it’s foolish to live there if you can’t protect yourself.

  7. The special interest groups that benefit from Prohibition are not going to give in or give uP easily. Legalizing freedom is just too threatening to these folks, and even large numbers of citizens — some of whom will say it’s okay to use (some) drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and of course those which you get from an authorized dealer (e.g. CVS) — but you should still have your life ruined if you sell any of them – and aren’t in CIA, DEA, LEO etc.

    Logic? Who needs it. THAT’s for sissies.

  8. Rafflaw, They don’t have resources to go after Banksters, With limited resources you pick and choose what you prosecute. They are choosing 70 year old sick people with plants versus bankers with $trillion reserves. Makes sense to me, NOT!

  9. I have studied the Colombian drug cartels extensively. The Colombian people took back their country from these animals. However, there is still a worldwide demand, and nowhere higher than in the US. The Colombian cartels ruled by terror. No one was more terrorized than police. Plato o Plomo. Silver or Lead, money or bullet. For the police, politicians, jusdges, etc. there was really no choice, they took the silver. This culture is now in Mexico. The cartels are just as ruthless. However, just recently they have shown they are exporting their terror to the US. Billboards in El Paso have been painted w/ the infamous slogan, Plato o Plomo. They have the effigy of a man in a business suit, implying prosecutors judges and politicians. Holder, acting as he has, makes me wonder if he hasn’t taken the silver. Because he is doing JUST what the cartels want. Legal cannabis in the US puts a huge bite into the Mexican cartels business. We know from the Marc Rich pardon that Holder is crooked. We know from his attacking the First Amendment regularly that he is ruthless. Maybe he decided to cash in before retiring.

  10. @Paul Schulte “Look guys, there is a guy in England who is having his newly built 500k house torn down because it is 6″ higher than his permit allowed for.

    I read that article. Your description isn’t really accurate.


    “House was built 6ft higher, 9ft longer and 4ft wider than allowed by council”

    1. Simms – thanks for the correction. I feel like the guys from Spinal Tap and the 18″ Stonehenge.

  11. Nick, how are Holder and Obama responsible for a law that weighs the whole plant? Hasn’t that law been around a long time?

    Again, you guys hate Obama when he bends the law, like with Dreamers, but you hate him when he follows it, as with pot.

    It’s a schedule one drug. It could be changed right now by Holder, but the outcry from the hippie punchers would be deafening. It’s going to have to be changed by congress.

    How many Republicans do you think will vote to take pot of the list of schedule one drugs?

    It’s just like with the Patriot Act. If you libertarians really wanted to change it, you’d vote for progressive Democrats, 70% of whom voted against renewing it (something only 14% of Republicans did).

    1. Holder has shown he will use selective enforcement when he wants. He makes the call, those charges drop. And Obama not only bends the laws, he breaks the ones he asked for.

  12. randyjet, You like to throw out assertions that simply aren’t true. i called you on one a few weeks ago and you just left. I know the US Attorney in Madison. He was appointed by Obama; as were all, or virtually all, in every district. WTF?

    1. The fact is that Obama left all the US attorneys in place until they found replacements or they left. I don’t know how many are left from W Bush.

  13. My wife was a Federal PO. The crack sentences were despicable, all PO’s, most US Attorneys and Federal Judges hated them. But, Tip and Ronnie foisted them on the public. The lesser known injustice is how cannabis is weighed. Anyone who know shit from shinola knows the only part of the plant worth anything are the buds, they have the THC. However, in formulating the Federal Sentencing guidelines, they weigh THE WHOLE PLANT! Most plants weigh in the ballpark of a kilo. However, the politicians who wrote these laws dis not understand that the buds are the “drug.” And, the buds weigh ~1 ounce per plant! Now, when you get to 100 or more plants, the govt. doesn’t need to even weigh them. A plant seized that has just started to grow and weighs maybe 7 oz. is a kilo, by statute.

    This is one of MANY travesties involving cannabis and the Obama administration led by his corrupt, AG, Eric Holder.

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