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Five people face federal trial for drug arrests north of Spokane

In Washington, some patients with specific ailments are allowed under state law to use medical marijuana to treat a variety of medical problems. Unfortunately, even state medical marijuana patients can face federal drug charges in certain cases. This is the situation faced by five family members in Kettle Falls, 70 miles north of Spokane, who were arrested nearly two years ago on federal drug charges. They are scheduled for trial in federal court in Spokane in May.

In August 2012, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched a house in Kettle Falls owned by a 70-year-old man and his 55-year-old wife and seized 44 premature marijuana plants. Authorities arrested three more people, including two family members, and seized firearms legally owned under Washington law. The feds also seized medical marijuana cookies, $700 in cash, the family's SUV and some cannabis kept inside a freezer. The couple, their son, their daughter-in-law and one other person were charged with federal drug crimes.

All of the defendants qualified as medical marijuana patients under Washington state law. Defense attorneys say the cannabis being cultivated on a remote corner of the family's 33-acre property was strictly for personal use.

Unfortunately, these federal charges have been pursued even though the federal Department of Justice has issued a policy directive stating that federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws should not target people who are seriously ill. Washington voters approved an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana use in November 2012.

Federal charges present special issues that defense attorneys must approach with skill. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney can help protect the rights of individuals facing federal drug charges.

Source:, "Five Washington state medical marijuana patients face federal trials," April 22, 2014

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