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Medical Marijuana Patients Can't Bring Up Drug's Medical Use In Federal Trial

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A family of medical marijuana patients in Washington state will not be able to defend themselves against drug trafficking charges by presenting evidence that their state-legal marijuana grow was for personal medical use.

 

"In regard to the medical marijuana evidence, I'm still persuaded that it will confuse the jury," U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle of the Eastern District of Washington said during a pretrial hearing teleconference on Monday. "I don't think [medical marijuana evidence] is relevant."

 

 

Van Sickle's ruling should come as no surprise. During a pretrial hearing in May, the judge had ruled that the five defendants, who face trial next month, could not use an "affirmative defense" that their cannabis plants were grown for medical purposes. With Monday's ruling, the judge said that the defendants can't bring in any physical

evidence that references medical marijuana use either and that Washington state law on medical marijuana can't be discussed before the jury.

 

Because marijuana use is illegal under federal law (with a few rare exceptions), federal courts generally don't allow evidence that the drug may have been taken as medicine -

- even when medical marijuana is permitted by state law, as it has been in Washington since 1998. Larry Harvey, 70; his wife, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 55; their son

Rolland Gregg, 33; daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 35; and family friend Jason Zucker, 38, sought to present evidence that the marijuana they grew was, in fact, legal

under state law, doctor-recommended and appropriate for each family member's condition.

"The jury will never hear that there was a sign [at the grow site] for medical marijuana," lawyer Douglas D. Phelps, who represents Rolland Gregg, said during Monday's

hearing. "They'll never hear that the defendants had a use for the marijuana that was medicinal. They'll never hear how they intended to use the crop, the purposes that they

would use it for or that the doctors believed that the amounts they were growing was consistent with their medical necessity."

The defendants contend they were growing about 70 marijuana plants for their personal use at the Harveys' rural home near Kettle Falls, Washington. State law

enforcement authorities had removed about one-third of the plants but otherwise left the pot patch alone after a 2012 raid.

But federal law enforcement responded much more harshly after their raid the same year. The federal government charged each defendant with six felonies, including

manufacturing, possession and distribution of marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

 

Their lawyers said the family kept multiple guns for hunting and defense at their home, which lies in the wilderness of northeast Washington state near the U.S.-Canadian

 

border. They have encountered black bears, cougars and coyotes at their front door on several occasions, according to the lawyers.

 

Federal prosecutors argue that the presence of firearms shows the defendants were involved in drug trafficking.

 

Under federal law, marijuana remains a Schedule I substance, which the Drug Enforcement Administration says has "no currently accepted medical use." Yet a number of

studies over the years have shown the medical potential of cannabis, from fighting cancer to controlling blood sugar. There have also been multiple attempts to reschedule

the drug since the 1970s.

"One must reasonably conclude that there is an accepted safety for use of marijuana under medical supervision," said a motion filed by the Harvey family's attorneys that

prompted Monday's hearing. "To conclude otherwise, on this record, would be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious." The motion was quoting then-DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young's response to a 1988 petition to reschedule marijuana.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/23/harvey-family-medical-marijuana_n_5523359.html

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aha.  here's basis for an appeal.  Few bases to rely on for appeal in most federal weed prosecutions, but now this family has one.

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so where do people get picked to be on federal jury? i mean, i've been picked for county jury, but not city nor federal nor state. are there state court cases with juries ?

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I understand this happens all the time, in all the medical States.

 

But the Fed gov't still has a medical mj program, still grows it & still distributes it people. Sure it's a hold over from Carter, but it still exists at the federal level.

 

Just seems wrong that they can deny you a reasonable defense. Shouldn't it be up the jury anyway?

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I understand this happens all the time, in all the medical States.

 

But the Fed gov't still has a medical mj program, still grows it & still distributes it people. Sure it's a hold over from Carter, but it still exists at the federal level.

 

Just seems wrong that they can deny you a reasonable defense. Shouldn't it be up the jury anyway?

Yes there should be but even inn our own State of Michigan their has only been a few jury 

Trials on the state leave 

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A judge in Washington state has ruled a measure approved by Congress to end federal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients does not benefit four family members and a friend who say they grew the drug for medicinal purposes.

​​​
The so-called Kettle Falls Five will stand trial later this month, U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice ruled Thursday. If convicted on all charges, the defendants each face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.

The defendants were arrested in August 2012 – months before Washington residents voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use – for tending a garden that roughly complied with the state's medical pot law, passed in 1998. All had qualifying conditions to use and grow marijuana, but federal prosecutors say the amount being grown exceeded their need and accused the group of drug trafficking.

Larry Harvey, 71, is the public face of the defendants, visiting the District of Columbia last year to lobby for legislation he and patient advocates hoped would shield his family from prosecution. Harvey's wife, their son, daughter-in-law and a family friend face identical charges.

 

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/02/13/judge-medical-pot-patients-will-stand-trial-in-state-where-the-drugs-legal

 

 

At trial, defendants won’t be allowed to discuss the same state law parsed in Rice’s ruling or tell jurors the reason they grew the plants. During a hearing in June, Judge Fred Van Sickle, who stepped off the case in December, forbade discussion of the state’s medical marijuana law. “There is no right to present irrelevant evidence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin Baunsgard told Van Sickle. “These things are not relevant and they would confuse the jury,” he agreed. Rice upheld that decision Thursday.

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I understand this happens all the time, in all the medical States.

 

But the Fed gov't still has a medical mj program, still grows it & still distributes it people. Sure it's a hold over from Carter, but it still exists at the federal level.

 

Just seems wrong that they can deny you a reasonable defense. Shouldn't it be up the jury anyway?

would be interesting to see if one of those "few" fed recipients, while on fed trial, or even state level, could introduce his federal evidence of allowed use/possession, and grow rights-somebody is growing the fed weed right, what if they got in trouble somehow.....

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Mississippi State grows the Fed weed

and they have been doing it way long enough to see what all mm would help medical pt's, they dont want us to know what they found, they want to control it, they want all $ involved with mmj, and it is total nonsense if I am growing mm for me with a pt card and grow rights to tell me I cant use that as a defense!  Why did I apply for a registration if it isnt gonna help me stay out of jail?  why would any on of us sign up for the program if it didnt help a defense against us?

 

Pure phaqing nonsense, it is time to put these people in there place, not give them the right to make all the funds that come from mj!  If I am a pt and I get caught with 1 oz useable, and 8 plants and 4 clones or seeds popping, I am within the limit, and I should be able to use it in court, I would gladly take a contempt of court if I was in this situation, the more that do it maybe we can get more jury nullifiactions!

 

Peace

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and they have been doing it way long enough to see what all mm would help medical pt's, they dont want us to know what they found, they want to control it, they want all $ involved with mmj, and it is total nonsense if I am growing mm for me with a pt card and grow rights to tell me I cant use that as a defense!  Why did I apply for a registration if it isnt gonna help me stay out of jail?  why would any on of us sign up for the program if it didnt help a defense against us?

 

Pure phaqing nonsense, it is time to put these people in there place, not give them the right to make all the funds that come from mj!  If I am a pt and I get caught with 1 oz useable, and 8 plants and 4 clones or seeds popping, I am within the limit, and I should be able to use it in court, I would gladly take a contempt of court if I was in this situation, the more that do it maybe we can get more jury nullifiactions!

 

Peace

 

 

if I am growing mm for me with a pt card and grow rights to tell me I cant use that as a defense!  Why did I apply for a registration if it isn't gonna help me stay out of jail?  why would any one of us sign up for the program if it didn't help a defense against us?   i get ask this all the time 

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Last week a federal judge rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case against five medical marijuana users in Washington state who face drug charges that could send them to prison for 10 years or more. That ruling means the trial of Larry Harvey and the four other defendants, known as the Kettle Falls Five, will proceed as scheduled next Monday.

Defense attorneys argued that the prosecution violates aspending rider barring the Justice Department from trying to stop states like Washington from implementing their medical marijuana laws. U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice disagreed, noting that federal prosecutors claim Harvey et al. were not complying with state law. "The United States has proffered evidence to demonstrate the defendants were operating a for-profit marijuana business," Rice wrote.

That evidence seems to be pretty weak, consisting mainly of the government's argument that Harvey and the others were growing too much marijuana for their own medical use. Defense attorneys say the amount was medically justified, citing the opinion of a physician with expertise in the therapeutic use of marijuana. The number of plants the Kettle Falls Five had was consistent with Washington's presumptive limit of 15 per patient, and they never faced charges under state law. Furthermore, as I explained in a column earlier this month, Harvey et al. are guilty under federal law regardless of their motivation for growing the marijuana, which they will not be allowed to discuss during their trial. Simply growing 100 or more plants, as alleged by the government (based on speculation about past harvests), is enough to trigger a five-year mandatory minimum, and the guns that Harvey and his wife owned add another five years to the minimum.

The rider cited by the defense, sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), has not had any obvious restraining effect on the Justice Department since it was enacted in December. In a speech on Sunday at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, Rohrabacher slammed the feds for continuing to target medical marijuana providers. "If any of you is being attacked, that federal prosecutor is breaking the law," he said. "That breaks the letter and the spirit of the law that passed the House with great debate." During that debate, opponents and supporters of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment agreed that it would stop the Justice Department from prosecuting people who grow or distribute marijuana for medical use in compliance with state law.

Last week Rohrabacher, Farr, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) issued a statement condemning U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag's continuing attempt to shut down and seize Oakland's Harborside Health Center, which they described as "a duly licensed dispensary of medical marijuana in accordance with state and local laws." They said the Justice Department "has overstepped its bounds in the Harborside case" and "is not acting within the spirit or the letter of the law nor in the best interests of the people who depend on Harborside for reliable, safe medical marijuana."

Harborside is licensed by Oakland but not by the state, which does not explicitly allow dispensaries, let alone regulate them. The Justice Department therefore could argue, as in the Kettle Falls Five case, that it is not targeting people who are complying with state law. But the status of dispensaries under California law is a matter of dispute, and the question is who should decide the issue: state and local officials or the feds. Letting the Justice Department decide who is complying with state medical marijuana laws would empower it to interfere with implementation of those laws, something the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment explicitly forbids.

 

 

http://reason.com/blog/2015/02/17/is-the-doj-defying-congress-by-pursuing

Edited by bobandtorey

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A family of medical marijuana patients who say they grew cannabis for personal use were acquitted on four of five federal drug charges Tuesday by a jury in Washington state.

Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 56; her son, Rolland Gregg, 33; and Gregg's wife, Michelle Gregg, 36, were convicted of illegally growing fewer than 100 marijuana plants following a weeklong trial in U.S. District Court in Spokane. They still may face up to several years in prison when they are sentenced later.

The three were acquitted of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, manufacturing and distribution of the plant, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking -- charges that could have landed them in prison for a decade or more.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/03/washington-medical-marijuana-verdict_n_6795580.html

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