Given the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in states like Colorado, Washington, and Alaska, and its ongoing legalization for medicinal purposes in states like California, Illinois and now Minnesota, it’s understandable how people might believe that law enforcement officials are just not as concerned with the drug as they once were.
While there might be some degree of truth to this regarding state law enforcement agencies, the same can definitely not be said of their federal counterparts, who still view marijuana as an illegal substance and, as demonstrated by a recent case, are still actively prosecuting those found with it in their possession.
The federal case in question originated in the state of Washington — which as mentioned earlier has legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes –and involved a group dubbed by the media as the Kettle Falls Five.
While a complete breakdown of the case is beyond the scope of our post, the case essentially consisted of the federal government pursuing drug charges — growing, distributing and conspiring to distribute — against a mother, her son and his wife. (With one defendant making a plea deal and another being dismissed from the case).
The charges came after federal agents conducted a raid on their family farm, which turned up four pounds of marijuana, multiple plants and $700 in cash.
At trial, their criminal defense attorney countered the federal government’s assertion that Washington’s marijuana laws were of no consequence in the matter, by arguing that the evidence presented didn’t support the conclusion that the family had been operating a drug distribution ring and that the federal government was unable to provide proof of any sale taking place.
These arguments ultimately proved persuasive, as the jury exonerated the three defendants of the more serious charges of distribution and conspiracy to distribute, each punishable by a decade in prison, and only found them guilty of growing marijuana, which is punishable by a considerably lower sentence.
“It’s a victory, but it’s bittersweet,” said the attorney, “They’ve been convicted of a federal crime.”
This case involving the Kettle Falls Five shows that the federal government has not abandoned the war on drugs, at least as it relates to marijuana, and that those living in states where the drug has been legalized in some form should be certain to understand this.
Source: Fox News, “3 Washington marijuana growers convicted of federal charge,” March 4, 2014