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Larry Harvey, 71, has suffered plenty. A resident of Washington State, Harvey developed pancreatic cancer and was told he had only a short time to live. His disease is terminal, so he could die at any time.

Lee HarveyThat hasn’t stopped the feds from trying to crucify him for growing weed. Harvey’s family are now on trial for helping him cultivate medical marijuana that prosecutors contend – without much proof – was intended for commercial sale.

They dropped charges against Harvey on grounds of compassion, since the cancer is likely to kill him in a matter of weeks or months. The feds showed no such compassion toward his wife, son, and daughter-in-law.

Growing within the limits of the law

Washington has allowed medical marijuana for many years, and pot has been legal for recreational use since 2013. The Harveys say they’re legitimate patients and were growing within the limits of the law.

But federal agents raided Harvey’s home in 2012, shortly after state authorities removed several plants from the property so the Harveys would be in compliance with Washington MMJ laws. The feds seized the rest of the plants and accused the Harveys of growing too many plants for one man – evidence, they claim, that the garden was commercial.

Harvey, his wife, their son, and their daughter-in-law were all registered medical marijuana patients. Because they were growing together, state law allowed them to cultivate more plants than they each could if growing separately. Federal prosecutors seemed to miss this point.

A family friend, Jason Zucker, agreed to plead guilty to charges related to the Harvey trial. But the terms of the agreement were sealed, so it’s impossible yet to know which charges he pleaded to.

Symbolizing the failed war on drugs

Harvey has become a hero in the MMJ world, a symbol of everything that has gone terribly wrong with the so-called war on drugs. Supporters say the DEA is trying to get revenge for the legalization of cannabis.

“Some federal law enforcement officials are addicted to punishing people for marijuana-related offenses, and in this case the prosecutors are going on quite a bender,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “They appear to be going out of their way to bring the harshest penalties possible. Nobody should face years in prison for providing medical marijuana to seriously ill people whose doctors recommend it. Surely the DEA and federal prosecutors have more pressing matters to address than this.”

weedApparently, no, they don’t. The DEA has become a bastion of anti-drug denial, home to agents determined to eradicate weed from the face of the planet. The idea is literally insane, but narcs aren’t exactly known for their common sense.

Unfortunately, the judge has barred the Harveys from claiming any kind of medical marijuana defense, since MMJ isn’t recognized under federal law. This happened despite the fact that Congress recently enacted a law that bars federal authorities from prosecuting patients or providers anywhere that medicinal pot is legal.

“They can’t put on a medical necessity defense,” said Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access. “They can’t talk about state medical marijuana law. Normally these cases don’t go to trial, and people typically take plea bargains because they have no defense. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is continuing to aggressively try this case at considerable expense to taxpayers.”

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About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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