Medical marijuana trial pits state vs. federal laws

An undated photo of Larry and Rhonda Harvey(Photo: Courtesy of Larry Harvey)

SPOKANE, Wash. — Federal prosecutors are trying to persuade a jury that a cancer-stricken man and his family were illegally growing and distributing marijuana in the forest outside their northeastern Washington home despite claims by the "Kettle Falls Five" that they were instead raising legal medical cannabis for their personal use.

The case against Larry Harvey's family has become a cause celebre among the marijuana community, which sees it as a prime example of the continued disconnect between state and federal marijuana laws. Washington state last summer allowed legal recreational sales, although the raid on the Harvey's home happened in August 2012. And Congress late last year effectively barred the Justice Department from interfering with states that have medical marijuana systems.

Legalization advocates say it is a case of misguided federal marijuana laws and overzealous prosecutors unable or...

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