Family of medical marijuana patients sentenced to federal prison plan for appeal to the 9th Circuit

Indiegogo fund and petition raising money for appeal and awareness surrounding the case

After receiving widely criticized sentences to federal prison, the family of medical marijuana patients known as the Kettle Falls Five have set up an Indiegogo page to help fund their appeal to the 9th Circuit, as well as a petition to President Obama.

Defendant Rolland Gregg, an alternative energy developer, received a sentence of 33 months. His wife and mother, Michelle Gregg and Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, each received one year and one day in federal prison.

The Kettle Falls Five outside of a Spokane Washington courtroom
The Kettle Falls Five outside of a Spokane Washington courtroom

The case originally included two additional defendants, Jason Zucker and Larry Harvey. Harvey—whose property he shared with wife Rhonda was the site of the medical marijuana grow— was released from the case a week prior to trial due to his ongoing battle with terminal pancreatic cancer, and died in late-August. Zucker took a plea deal the day before trial and received a 16-month sentence.

It is estimated that the feds have spent $2 million prosecuting these medical marijuana patients, who were operating legally within Washington state medical marijuana laws. The term medical marijuana was disallowed from mention during the trial, ensuring no accurate representation of the family’s garden or medical ailments were permissible in court.

The case has attracted nationwide headlines and numerous allies in Congress. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., has referred to the trial as unfair and wasteful, saying, “By barring the family from admitting into evidence that they were medical marijuana patients, the scales of justice were weighted towards conviction because the courts refuse to hear all the facts.”

The 2014 Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act disallows federal interference into state-legal medical marijuana operations. However, Judge Thomas Rice ruled that the family was unprotected by this due to the fact that their roughly 70 plant outdoor marijuana garden exceeded the Washington state medical marijuana cultivation limits. Washington policy at the time stated that each patient can grow up to 15 plants, but cannot exceed 45 at the same location. Given this, the five original defendants could grow up to 75 plants, just not collectively at the same site.

While the term medical marijuana wasn’t permitted during trial, the phrase was abundant during the sentencing hearing. Here, federal prosecutor Earl Hicks repeatedly referred to the medical marijuana grow—which came complete with a large green cross as signage for authorities—as “clearly not medical marijuana.” Judge Rice backed up these comments by referring to the operation as having “altruistic goals in the beginning, but turned into a distribution center.” Had the family of defendants been permitted to argue the legitimacy of the medical marijuana garden in front of the jury, the outcome could have undoubtedly been different.

While justice currently sits unserved, individuals are urged to donate to the Indiegogo fund and sign the petition to ensure that this family of medical marijuana patients are not forced to serve their unwarranted federal prison terms.

Original Rolland Gregg Patient Story with Video – Click Here


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