A drug crimes case out of the eastern portion of the state is raising some red flags for many people here in Washington. That's because federal drug charges were recently filed against five people from Kettle Falls after federal agents collected 68 marijuana plants from their rural farm. Their case is now highlighting the blurry lines between state drug laws and federal drug laws.
Although growing and using marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, residents must adhere to strict state laws or risk violating both state and federal drug laws. Even a misinterpretation of the law can result in criminal charges. This appears to have been the case here. According to one of the people being charged in the case, he didn't realize he was breaking the law until a county sheriff came to his property and told him so.
To add insult to injury, federal prosecutors are also accusing the five of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana. And because guns were found on the property, a weapons charge was also added to the drug-trafficking charge.
The defendants insist though that this wasn't the case and that they were only growing medical marijuana, which they had no intention of selling. It's worth pointing out though that even in states where marijuana is legal, the federal courts care little about why people are growing marijuana but rather that you were growing it at all. As some legal experts are quick to point out, this aspect of federal law ultimately sets defendants up for failure in criminal proceedings nearly every time.
The hope though is that this won't be the case for these five when they go to trial on July 28.
Source: USA Today, “Pot growers face charges -- in state where pot is legal,” Jolie Lee, May 19, 2014