Amidst a tearful courtroom of onlookers, Judge Thomas Rice sentenced the family of medical marijuana patients known as the Kettle Falls Five to federal prison for time periods ranging from one year to 33 months.
Rolland Gregg received the heaviest penalty with the sentence of 33 months. His wife, Michelle Gregg, and mother, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, were both sentenced to one year and one day behind bars. All were sentenced to three years supervised release following their prison terms, with the Greggs each handed a $7500 fine on top of the aforementioned sentences.
Judge Thomas Rice repeatedly referred to the family’s medical marijuana garden as a having “altruistic goals in the beginning, but turned into a distribution center.” The outdoor garden was comprised of roughly 70 plants and a large green cross to indicate that it was a medical marijuana garden.
Each of the defendants fought back tears as they addressed Judge Rice, apologizing for the unfortunate dealings over the past three years. As Rolland Gregg said, “I never wanted to hurt anyone. I only ever wanted to help.”
The case has been widely criticized for reasons ranging from the hypocrisy of prosecuting medical marijuana patients in Washington state–where medical marijuana has been legal since 1998 and recreational weed since 2012–to the term medical marijuana being disallowed during the trial.
Washington recently boasted over $70,000,000 in tax revenue off their first year of recreational marijuana sales.
Contrary to the trial proceedings, prosecuting attorney Earl Hicks continually used the phrase medical marijuana during the sentencing hearing. Repeated statements included “clearly not medical marijuana” and “this was a for-profit marijuana grow.” He also ranked the defendants as to whom he deemed most guilty, claiming Rolland Gregg to have “taken advantage of his wife and mother for his own exploits.” Hicks also berated defense witness Jeramy Kaufman, questioning whether the marijuana growing he was associated with was “illegal or professional” and asking him, “Do people who do illegal things try to cover the facts?” Here, Hicks’ bizarre personal accusations and strange references to medical marijuana set the stage for the unjust upholding of draconian laws and conflicting policies.
The Kettle Falls Five were originally composed of two additional members, Larry Harvey and Jason Zucker. Zucker took a last minute plea deal in exchange for his testimony and received a 16 month sentence, but remains free pending appeal of the case. Harvey had his charges dropped a week prior to the trial due to his battle with terminal cancer. He passed away in August of 2015 and would not have lived to see the prison term ahead of him had the feds not dismissed him from the case.
Rolland Gregg, Michelle Gregg, and Rhonda Firestack-Harvey remain free from federal prison pending appeal.