Below is the earlier version of this story: A pot-growing Kettle Falls family was acquitted on four of the five federal charges against them tonight in a case that was seen as a barometer for how conflicts between state and federal drug laws will be handled. Rhonda Lee Firestack-Harvey, along with her son Roland Gregg and his wife, Michelle, each were convicted of one count of growing marijuana by a federal jury following a weeklong trail in U.S. District Court in Spokane. They were acquitted of conspiracy, trafficking and firearms-related charges but could still face prison terms of at least five years each on the production charge. The case has earned attention as a barometer of the willingness of federal prosecutors to pursue marijuana cases in the wake of states legalizing the drug for medical reasons. Washington and Colorado have since legalized marijuana for recreational use as well. Prosecutors charged the family with operating a 100-plant outdoor grow operation between 2011 and 2012 that would have produced far more marijuana than the five could have smoked for personal or medicinal uses. Prosecutors earlier this month dropped charges against Firestack-Harvey’s terminally ill 71-year-old husband, Larry Harvey. A fifth defendant, Jason Zucker, had been a family friend but took a plea deal just before the trial and testified for the prosecution. Despite having state marijuana cards, the defendants were prohibited by Judge Thomas Rice from telling jurors about their status as medical marijuana cardholders. Instead, the case was argued narrowly on whether federal laws outlawing marijuana were broken. Prosecutors presented evidence that the defendants kept business records – including payments to themselves. Those records also detail the hiring of people to trim and process the plants. Such evidence, according to prosecutors, shows that the family was operating outside of the state’s Medical Use of Cannabis Act, thus exposing them to prosecution under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Prosecutors asked that the family members be taken into custody while awaiting sentencing but Rice declined.
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