Nearly a year and a half ago we featured a story describing the plight of the “Kettle Falls Five” who were arrested by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on charges relating to marijuana cultivation and firearms violations. I am reprinting here portions of my previous article which has many details of the original case. Now, three of these defendants were sentenced to federal prison.
The 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 prosecuted five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing seventy-four medical marijuana plants in a private collective. Washington State is a Medical Marijuana State. 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. The patriarch of the family, the accused Larry Harvey, had the charges dropped but has since died of cancer.
While state law at the time permitted the cultivation of up to forty-five plants, federal law prohibits any cultivation. Originally confusion of the numbers of plants that might be permissible under state law (in aggregate) should take into consideration that multiple individuals had separate grows and this led to a misunderstanding. While the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office told the accused to remove those plants in excess of the amounts allowed, the DEA later arrived and raided their farms.
What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-three 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 claimed 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. Many viewed this case as necessitating jury nullification.
A sign of the current education situation in Washington State took a turn for the obvious when, showing a fundamental lack of knowledge of basic civics, a coalition of Washington State Senators declared an order of the State Supreme Court to be Unconstitutional. That’s right, the several senators seem to have missed a key portion of their junior-high education relating to which branch of government has the ultimate say in constitutional matters and perhaps the workings of our tripartite government.
The claim of unconstitutionality stems from an open letter penned by several state senators describing the “constitutional crisis” caused by a rogue state supreme court. Previously the court held the state in contempt for failing to provide for the constitutionally mandated primary duty of funding basic education. It ultimately prescribed a penalty of $100,000.00 for each day the legislature failed to furnish the court with a suitable plan to address shortcomings enumerated in McCleary v. State.
In the wake of the State of Indiana passing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a law crafted to allow businesses to curtail services to customers based upon religious objections—Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and later Governor Jay Inslee issued executive orders prohibiting government funded travel of employees to Indiana in protest.
The proffered reasons of these executives is to voice protest in that Indiana’s statute is incompatible with either state anti-discrimination laws or is in alignment with the political values of these local governments.
Orders of this type are actually counter to the idea of sovereignty of each state and interfere with the judicial, executive, and legislative processes that are inherently reserved to the voters and citizens of, in this case, the state of Indiana.
Criminal Cases resulting from speeding offense probable cause may be in jeopardy due to improper colors used variable speed limit signs. If courts determine that these signs violate statutory signage standards, exclusionary rules may apply resulting in dismissals of numerous criminal cases.
An example of this is found on Interstate 90 straddling Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. Over a decade ago, the Washington State Department of Transportation installed Highway Advisory Beacons, near the mountain pass to warn driver of upcoming hazards along with incorporation into the state’s variable speed limit statute. An example of these types of signs is pictured above.
A man in Wenatchee, Washington was charged with Felony Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Deliver for what began as a text message. Unfortunately for him, his offer to illegally sell marijuana mistakenly went to a friend of a deputy sheriff.
After the incident, described in a Probable Cause Statement by a detective with the Columbia River Drug Task Force, Braxton Whited probably should consider reviewing his cell phone’s contact list.
In what some regard as an affront to both free speech and whistleblowing, Washington legislators Joe Schmick, J. T. Wilcox, June Robinson, and Vincent Buys sponsored House Bill 1104 introducing the new crime of “Interference with Agricultural Production.” The bill, if signed into law, will have the effect of criminalizing whistleblowing and the free speech activities of those seeking to publicize allegations of animal cruelty and other concerning farming methods under the guise of protecting agribusinesses from economic harm.
The bill also provides for troubling retributions against those who have traditionally revealed acts of cruelty to animals and shown food safety abuses by several farms and businesses.