Before he was sentenced, Brian Sledge, 40, turned to face a Snohomish County Superior Court room full of medical marijuana supporters and apologized to his family and others.
"If I had it to do over again, I would not grow cannabis in my home," he said.
Prosecutors initially charged Sledge and his wife, Jenny Sledge, with growing and selling marijuana out of the family's north Everett home in November 2010. Charges later were dropped against Jenny Sledge.
The children told investigators that their dad paid them to help tend the plants.
The Sledges had paperwork authorizing them to use and grow marijuana for medical purposes. Police maintained the amount seized was at least double what could be considered necessary for the Sledges' care, according to investigators.
The couple came to the attention of authorities after one of their children told state social workers and police that her father was growing marijuana in the basement. The girl told authorities that she was "tired of always smelling like marijuana," according to court papers.
The children, who were in middle and high school, also told investigators that Brian Sledge had them help him mix soil, cut plants and hang them to dry. They said they'd seen their father sell marijuana multiple times.
Detectives raided the house Nov. 3, 2010. The front and back doors were reinforced with metal brackets, and 2x4 boards barricaded the doors. Detectives found 29 marijuana plants growing in a closet in the master bedroom. In the basement, which was reached through a trap door underneath the stairs, detectives found 38 additional plants.
The defense argued that Sledge was providing marijuana to people who needed it for medical conditions.
Many of those attending the sentencing wore red buttons that read "Stop Arresting Patients."
Prosecutor Janice Albert said an investigation into the family's finances turned up well over $100,000 in income that couldn't be accounted for.
She said the money indicated to her that Sledge's actions were not all about compassion, but greed.
Judge Bruce Weiss said he believed the defendant loves his family and was sincere in believing that he was helping people. His sentence was the low end of the range.
At the same time, the judge said he was struck by the testimony of Sledge's children.
"It certainly has impacted the children tremendously," Weiss said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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