Chris Bartkowicz was charged in February with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute 100 plus plants, using a place to manufacture a controlled substance and distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a children’s school. Bartkowicz and his defense attorney claim that he was not knowingly breaking the law.
The defense’s argument is that Bartkowicz was following Colorado laws regarding medical marijuana. Prosecutors filed a motion last week that the federal judge overseeing the case should not allow that defense.
Because Bartkowicz is facing federal charges, the prosecution is going after him with federal drug laws in mind, and some would say, they are overstepping their bounds in the case since Colorado allows the cultivation and sales of medical marijuana.
Among the growing group of medical marijuana supporters, fear exists that the federal government will try to put an end to states’ laws that legalize medical distribution of the drug. Bartkowicz’s case is being used by medical marijuana supporters as an example of such a government attack.
Bartkowicz’s lawyer has tried to get the case dismissed against his client. He claims that federal authorities wrongly arrested him in their search for drug traffickers when Bartkowicz is not a drug trafficker, but a Coloradan who was growing and selling marijuana for medical purposes, according to state law.
Prosecutors, however, argue that Bartkowicz was not strictly following Colorado medical marijuana laws because he had more than the allowed amount of plants in his Denver home. The federal judge has agreed with the prosecution and will not listen to the argument that the suspect was following Colorado law.
If Bartkowicz is found guilty on all counts and punished to the maximum extent possible, he could face up to a life sentence.
The Denver Post: Prosecutors want to disallow medical-marijuana defense for Highlands Ranch man (8/19/2010)
The Associated Press: Federal court in Colorado bars marijuana defense (8/19/2010)