Members of a family who grew medical marijuana on their farm near Kettle Falls will wait until October to learn whether they will spend time in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice on Thursday approved a delay of the sentencing hearing for Rhonda Lee Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg, Michelle Gregg and Jason Zucker. The hearing had originally been scheduled for next week in Spokane.
The defendants successfully asked that Rice delay their hearing until both sides have had time to review trial transcripts. The parties remain at odds over how long the defendants should spend in prison after a jury in March found them guilty of manufacturing between 50 and 100 marijuana plants in violation of federal law. The family has asked for a sentence of probation, while the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants them to spend five years behind bars.
The legal landscape on medicinal marijuana laws could change greatly by the time the family appears again before Rice. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear later this year the case of Charles Lynch, a Los Angeles man who was found guilty in 2010 of manufacturing marijuana. Lynch appealed his conviction after Congress passed a law last year prohibiting funding for Department of Justice cases targeting state-sanctioned medical marijuana operations.
The Kettle Falls Five, as they are known in national stories on the case, unsuccessfully tried multiple times before trial to have their case thrown out based on Congress’ decision. Zucker eventually took a plea deal, and the family’s patriarch, Larry Harvey, was released from prosecution after his diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer.