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article imageSenior citizen medical marijuana patient to lobby U.S. Congress

By Jeannie Stokowski-Bisanti     May 6, 2014 in Politics
Ahead of his May 12th trial, federal medical marijuana defendant Larry Harvey, 70, goes to Washington, D.C. to lobby the United States Congress in order to stop funding federal prosecutions like his.
A federal medical marijuana case that is scheduled to go to trial on May 12th in Spokane, Washington involves Harvey who is one of the “Kettle Falls 5.”
The “Kettle Falls 5″ is made up of Harvey, his wife Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 55, her son Rolland Gregg, 33, daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 35, and friend of the family Jason Zucker, 38. All five are legal medical marijuana patients with serious medical conditions.
Many advocates are concerned about Harvey’s health and whether the Federal Bureau of Prisons is can properly care for him. After he was arrested in 2012, jailed for 17 days, and denied crucial medication, Harvey’s foot was permanently disfigured.
In August of 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the Harvey's property and seized 44 premature cannabis plants. Federal agents also confiscated the family’s automobile (a 2007 Saturn Vue), $700 in cash, their legally owned firearms, and other personal property.
Because of marijuana’s illegal status under federal law, patients like the “Kettle Falls 5″ are typically prohibited from raising a medical necessity or state law defense in federal court.
The “Kettle Falls 5″ were indicted in February 2013 and charged with six felonies each: conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, manufacture of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, distribution of marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and maintaining a drug-involved premises.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has spent more than $3 million so far to prosecute the five patients who were each growing fewer than 15 plants in accordance with state law. If convicted, the DOJ could spend as much as $13 million of taxpayers' money to send them to prison.
Harvey wants to make sure Congress knows what’s happening so they can fix the law.
Prosecutors are currently still seeking mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years to life in prison despite repeated calls by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in recent months for mandatory minimum sentencing reform for non-violent drug crimes in particular.
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