Feds drop pot charges against terminal cancer patient; family could still face prison

By Oscar Pascual |

Washington state medical cannabis patient Larry Harvey can go home free of all his marijuana-related charges this week, but that’s where the good news ends for him.

Huffington Post reports U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice dismissed multiple federal marijuana charges against the 71-year-old Harvey on Wednesday, only because of his terminal condition due to Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

Harvey, along with his wife, son, his son’s wife, and even a close family friend were all charged for illegally growing about 70 cannabis plants after state authorities raided their home in 2012. While the family maintains that their pot garden was in full compliance with state laws that legalized medical marijuana in 1998, federal prosecutors say the presence of firearms shows the defendants were involved in drug trafficking.

Harvey would have faced at least 10 years in prison had he been convicted, although he likely wouldn’t even make it through the first year. The average life expectancy for the metastatic disease is just three to six months, according to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

If Harvey’s deteriorating health isn’t bad enough, those same federal charges still remain against his family members, who could still face decades of prison time. The Harvey family’s trial is slated to begin next week.

“I’m thankful the charges against me have been dropped so that I can focus on my battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” Harvey said in a statement. “However, if the Department of Justice truly has concerns for my well being, it will dismiss the case against my entire family. I thought the law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama was supposed to stop the DOJ from prosecuting my family, but so far, there’s been little relief.”

Harvey’s impending fate, compounded by the possible loss of his entire family, is likely worse than the proposed decade spent behind bars.

“My wife, Rhonda, is my sole caregiver,” Harvey said Thursday. “She cooks meals for me and makes sure I take all my medicines on time. She’s even been using our tractor to do all of the property upkeep herself, since I am too sick to do it anymore. If Rhonda goes to prison, I don’t know who will take care of me. I will probably have to leave our home for good and move into a nursing facility.”