OUTRAGE: Denver Medical Cannabis Provider Taken Into Custody for 5-year snetence

CW: In what I can only call unbelievable and FUCKING SCARY, medical grower Chris Bartkowicz agrees to a 5-year sentence and is immediately remanded to custody. His mistake was believing that it was all good after the Obama memo and going on the news to explain his business of providing medicine to cannabis dispensaries on Colorado. A highly publicized raid and ensuing banter from the DEA garnered a lot of interest. But a fight that seemed almost over before it began, Chris is now in Federal custody because of a misleading memo. His hands were tied and he will lose years of his life because of the failed policies of the war on cannabis. I would like to apologize deeply for my government’s tyranny in holding you as a political prisoner. It is uncalled for and mean spirited. They continue to put good people behind bars for plants and we continue to feel threatened and like second-class citizens. I am outraged at this action and can only pray that the Judge finds a conscious between now and sentencing.

So I make a plea to you U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer…if you are googling your name and this comes up please take a moment to read it. Christopher Bartkowicz is a good person who made a mistake. He does not deserve to rot in a prison for his desire to provide cannabis to medical patients. His actions were unsophisticated and lacked malicious intent. there are no victims. And most of all he felt safe based on words from the US Attorney’s office themselves, which mislead him to believe he was legally in the clear. He was selectively prosecuted because he was silly enough to believe that he was doing a legal and good service. Do what is right and downward depart on his sentence. Safety valve or whatever you have to do. Nobody deserves to be in prison for half of a decade for this. Think about it.

Denver-area pot grower agrees to 5-year term

DENVER – A Highlands Ranch pot grower who tried unsuccessfully to set up a federal-state showdown on medical marijuana agreed to a five-year prison term Thursday and was handcuffed in court after pleading guilty on federal drug charges.

Christopher Bartkowicz, 37, pleaded guilty to three drug charges, including cultivation, after federal drug agents raided his Highlands Ranch home in February and seized hundreds of pot plants growing in his basement. The raid happened just before a 9Wants to Know story on his operation was set to air.

The raid by the Drug Enforcement Administration came after 9NEWS promoted our story in which Bartkowicz bragged about how much money he would make growing pot under Colorado medical marijuana rules.

Bartkowicz was originally scheduled to plead guilty in April. But he changed his mind on a plea deal and decided to pursue a defense that was based on recent signals from the White House not to pursue federal marijuana cases in states that allow medical marijuana.

Federal prosecutors sought to block Bartkowicz’s argument. U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer last month sided with the government, ruling that Justice Department memos about drug prosecutions aren’t legal clearance to violate federal drug laws.

After Bartkowicz was blocked from using Colorado’s marijuana law in his defense, as well as barred from bringing up the possible medicinal value of marijuana, he pleaded guilty.

Under Thursday’s plea deal, which isn’t final until a judge approves it Jan. 28, Bartkowicz will serve five years in prison on three charges – cultivation, intent to distribute and having pot near a public elementary school. If he had gone to trial, Bartkowicz could have faced a life term because of a previous drug conviction.

The judge could still reject the plea deal at the January hearing.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re legal in Colorado or in Denver for medical marijuana. At any time you could be charged federally,” 9NEWS Legal Analyst Scott Robinson said.

Robinson says it’s clear the U.S. Attorney’s Office isn’t going after the vast majority of people using medical marijuana, however.

“Still,” he said, “the smart thing is for people to keep their heads down.”

Medical marijuana advocates like attorney Rob Corry are outraged.

“The Obama Administration, despite promises to the contrary, has now locked up a human being in a cage for growing a plant in his basement,” Corry said Thursday afternoon. “In Colorado, there are easily thousands of people doing identical things to what Chris Bartkowicz was doing,” he said.

Corry wondered: What kind of message does this send to them?

After he pleaded guilty Thursday, Bartkowicz tried to remain on bond until formal sentencing. The judge rejected the request, and Bartkowicz removed his tie and was handcuffed by two deputies and led from the courtroom.

It’s not clear whether Bartkowicz’s earlier plea agreement, which he rejected, would have been gentler.

A separate pot grower, Rodney Jobe, was sentenced to three years of probation and time served on Wednesday by the same judge. Jobe pleaded guilty in June to cultivation charges for growing 374 marijuana plants inside a commercial building in Colorado Springs.

Jobe never talked to reporters about his pot-growing business, but Bartkowicz invited a 9Wants to Know crew into his suburban home in February and bragged that he would make $400,000 a year from selling marijuana.

Bartkowicz’s lawyer, Joseph Saint-Veltri, argued Thursday that Bartkowicz is being treated harshly because he’s publicly criticized federal drug policy.

“One has to think that this is to punish Mr. Bartkowicz, to silence him,” Saint-Veltri said while trying unsuccessfully to have Bartkowicz’s bond extended until January. Brimmer refused.

The U.S. attorney for Colorado, John Walsh, put out a statement after Bartkowicz’s plea calling the five-year sentence proper.

“That sentence is appropriate and proportionate given the circumstances of this specific crime,” Walsh wrote.

Federal drug authorities are stepping up signals that they don’t plan to abide by state marijuana laws that make pot legal.

On Wednesday, the director of the National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, told The Associated Press that Justice Department officials haven’t ruled out taking legal action against California if voters there approve a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)
Source: http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=159237&catid=339