Federal authorities are seeking lengthy prison term for a rural elderly man growing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Pot dispensaries are now commonplace in Washington, the state is currently in the process of licensing residents to grow and sell recreational marijuana.
Despite the marijuana business set to thrive in Washington, five Spokane residents will soon enter a federal courtroom to discover their fate, after being caught with marijuana growing on their property. Larry Harvey, 70, a friend, and three relatives were caught with 70 cannabis plant on their property in the mountains. If convicted of the marijuana cultivation crime, they will face a minimum of 10 years in prison.
The extensive prison terms reportedly stems for the presence of weapons in the home. Harvey and his clan kept the legally owned guns for hunting and self-defense purposes. Federal agents who confiscated the marijuana said that since two of the guns were inside the same room as a plastic tub of pot, weapons infraction were added to the marijuana indictment.
Marijuana advocacy groups are protesting the Justice Department decisions to prosecute Larry Harvey and the others for such extensive charges. As previously noted by The Inquisitr, Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2013 that nonviolent and small-time drug offenders should not face heavy prison time. US Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Joe Harrington refused to comment on the upcoming trial.
Americans for Safe Access Washington State Coordinator Kari Boiter said, “This case is another glaring example of what’s wrong with the federal policy on cannabis.”
Under state initiative 502, more than two dozen individuals have been licenses to cultivate and sell marijuana in Washington – with the full knowledge of the Justice Department.
Commercial medical marijuana dispensaries are already up and running in multiple cities, particularly in the western region.
“Where commercial outlets are largely permitted in Western Washington [where the US Attorney’s office is located] in Eastern Washington is subjecting individual patients to mandatory minimum prison sentences for private cultivation,” Larry Harvey’s defense team said.
The legal team wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to review the prosecutorial decisions being made in the Harvey case.
In 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has stated that the prosecution of medical marijuana patients is not a priority and has allowed states to regulate cannabis for both recreational and medical usage. The DOJ did reserve the power to “target operations” which have ties to organized crime or neglected to follow state law.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal statute.
[Featured Image Via: Shutterstock.com]
[Secondary Image Via: Rob Hotakainen / MCT]