Help End Federal Persecution Of Medical Marijuana Patients

The “Kettle Falls Five,” clockwise from front: Larry Harvey, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Jason Zucker, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg. (Dan Pelle)

The creator of CrowdDefend, a new crowd funding service, reached out to us recently. They’ve set up a campaign to help the defendants in the Kettle Falls Five case pay for their legal costs. The Kettle Falls Five case is one of the most widely watched federal medical marijuana cases ever—read up on it below. Here’s the link if you’d like to contribute.

In an extreme example of the federal government’s War on Drugs, a group known as “the Kettle Falls Five” has been federally prosecuted for growing medical marijuana in rural Washington state. The group includes a family — a 71-year-old man, his wife, adult son, and the son’s wife — along with a family friend who signed an eleventh-hour plea deal with the government in exchange for offering testimony against the family. Every member of the family is indigent, none has any criminal history, and two members of the family (including Equal Justice Under Law’s client) are native members of the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe. All five co-defendants possessed valid medical licenses to grow marijuana. Despite such activity being legal under Washington state law, the federal government brought charges that carry a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence per defendant. To see the family discussing the case, click here:

On March 3rd, a jury delivered a resounding rebuke to the federal government’s efforts, acquitting the remaining defendants on 4 out of 5 counts, and convicting the defendants only of the lesser-included charge of Manufacturing Less than 100 Marijuana Plants.  For news coverage of the jury’s verdict, click here:

Equal Justice Under Law is handling its client’s sentencing (currently scheduled for June 10, 2015) and appeals, and will continue to oppose the government’s excessive War on Drugs — a war that needlessly ravages poor communities throughout our nation. A complete victory in this case will set an important appellate precedent and define the limits of the federal government’s ability to prosecute medical patients.

This landmark prosecution will have significant ramifications for the scope of the War on Drugs and has the potential to set important constitutional limits on the government’s efforts to imprison people without compelling justification. Additionally, this case will test the limits of Congress’s prohibition against the Department of Justice from spending any money on medical marijuana cases in states where it is legal.

The United States now imprisons its own citizens at a rate five times its historical average. Every year, the federal government spends more than $50 billion on its War on Drugs. The government wages this war by surveilling, raiding, prosecuting, and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people for totally victimless crimes. The War on Drugs overwhelmingly targets the poor and minorities, contributing to the highest incarceration rate in world history and labeling as dangerous criminals people who have never hurt anyone.

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