SPOKANE -- Five men face federal charges after a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane earlier this year. They could spend decades in federal prison.
They are indicted for the manufacture and distribution of marijuana and for maintaining a drug-involved location. The charges carry maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
The owners said they felt state law protected them. Jerry Laberdee, who owns MHP Medical Herb Providers, said he was not aware of the indictment.
"I am almost without words. I can't even tell you how ridiculous it seems," said Laberdee.
Laberdee and his business partner, Dennis Whited, are indicted for actions involving a marijuana dispensary on North Freya in Spokane. It was raided and shut down in May.
It is legal to have medical marijuana in the state of Washington. But it is still a federal offense.
Three other men were also indicted Wednesday. Russell Black is indicted for actions involving a dispensary in Loon Lake. Charles Wright and Jon Vivian were indicated for actions involving a dispensary located within 1,000 feet of Grant Elementary School on Spokane's South Hill. Wright said he could face 50 years in prison because his business was near an elementary school.
"I have no idea what I'm going to do now. Obviously I face massive indictments which put incredible restrictions on my freedom," said Wright.
Both men said they feel betrayed because they were given proper permits for their businesses. The said they did everything according to state law. Now they argue the state will not back them up in their fight against the federal government.
Laberdee said although his is facing serious time, he would do it all over again to provide for those in need of his services.
"I have these people my word. If you are not good for your word you aren't good for anything," said Laberdee.
All five men will be summoned to make a court appearance at a later date. Until then, Laberdee and Wright said they are actively looking for attorneys to take their cases.