Pubdate: Mon, 12 May 2014
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2014 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Washington Bureau
Page: B1


Stevens County

Kettle Falls Farmer Growing Pot to Ease Pain Is Busted for Breaking
Federal Law

A Stevens County man who ate marijuana cookies to ease gout and knee
pain faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. While Washington
state allows marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes,
Congress has classified the drug as a substance of no medical value.

WASHINGTON - Larry Harvey, 70, found a remedy for his gout and chronic
knee pain.

"At night that thing just throbs," he said. "But my wife can make a
marijuana cookie, just a small one. And I'll eat it and in five
minutes, the pain is gone, man. I mean, the pain is gone."

Harvey stopped eating his cookies in August 2012, after federal
authorities raided his farm near Kettle Falls, Stevens County, seizing
44 pot plants, his 2007 Saturn, his guns and $700 in cash.

With his trial set to begin Monday in Spokane, the retired trucker and
commercial fisherman faces a minimum 10-year prison sentence if he's

"That would be a life sentence for me," Harvey said Tuesday on Capitol
Hill. "You might as well take me out and execute me. ... The federal
government is going to try to put me in prison for growing my own medicine."

Medical-marijuana advocates brought Harvey to Washington, D.C., this
week to make his case to members of Congress, saying it's time to
legalize the drug for the more than 1 million Americans who use
marijuana for medical reasons.

"I just want to make sure Congress knows what's happening so they can
fix the law," he said.

While Washington state allows marijuana for both medical and
recreational purposes, the state laws mean nothing in Harvey's case.
Congress has classified the drug as a Schedule 1 substance, meaning
it's deemed to have no medical value. Harvey won't be allowed to use
his medical ailments as a defense because of the federal

"A lot of people in Washington don't believe this is happening, but
you can't deny it anymore - that the policy is completely out of whack
- - when you have him sitting in front of you," said Kari Boiter,
Washington state coordinator for Americans for Safe Access, a group
that's lobbying to change the federal law.

Harvey said he didn't believe in using pharmaceutical drugs,
dismissing them as chemicals. He said he avoided processed food in
favor of the vegetables from his big garden, which his wife canned and
froze. And he said he was a hunter, providing venison, turkeys and
grouse for the family.

"We don't buy hardly anything from the store," he said. "I'm living on
Social Security, and that 1,200 bucks a month don't go very far."

Harvey said the charges confused him because he had a
medical-marijuana card from his doctor and never tried to hide his
operations. He said he didn't even smoke the pot, only consumed the
medicated cookies that were confiscated from his freezer.

Harvey faces six felony charges: conspiracy to manufacture and
distribute marijuana, manufacture of marijuana, possession with intent
to distribute marijuana, distribution of marijuana, possession of a
firearm to further a drug-trafficking crime and maintaining a
drug-involved premises. His wife, son, daughter-in-law and a family
friend face similar charges in connection with the raid.

Derek Franklin, the Washington state coordinator of the
anti-legalization group Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
said Congress shouldn't approve medical marijuana. He said it would be
better to get the federal government to quickly approve any medicines
that could be made from marijuana components and to have them
dispensed at pharmacies.

"There are always going to be heartbreak cases, but that's a separate
issue from the policy issue," Franklin said. "I don't like the idea of
anyone getting beaten up by the law for something that would seem
incongruous, but I think the big fight is on a policy level."

While 21 states have passed medical-marijuana laws, Boiter said it was
clear that patients were on their own in dealing with federal

"We have individual patients all over this country who are facing the
federal government head-on, and there's not a single state agency or
state official who's standing up for them," she said. "It's on them to
fight it."

Harvey scoffed at any notion that the Obama administration is easing
up on enforcing federal marijuana laws, even though the U.S. Justice
Department is allowing Washington state and Colorado to proceed with
their plans to tax and sell marijuana for recreational purposes.

"Not a damn bit," Harvey said. "They got me tarred and feathered and
I'm on a rail."
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