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  1. chillinwill
    Federal drug-enforcement agents Friday raided the home of a Highlands Ranch man who a day earlier bragged in a 9News report about the large and profitable medical-marijuana-growing operation in his basement.

    Along with the raid, Jeffrey Sweetin, the Drug Enforcement Administration's special agent in charge of the Denver office, sent a message to anyone involved in Colorado's increasingly profitable medical-marijuana industry.

    "It's still a violation of federal law," Sweetin said. "It's not medicine. We're still going to continue to investigate and arrest people."

    Agents at the scene Friday evening said the marijuana grower, Chris Bartkowicz, had been taken into custody. Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Denver, said the grower would be held over the long Presidents Day weekend before a decision on charges is made Tuesday.

    "The U.S. attorney's office will review the evidence the DEA collected before we make a determination whether we will prosecute," Dorschner said.

    DEA agents converged on the house Friday afternoon and, before leaving several hours later, removed dozens of marijuana plants in black plastic trash bags as well as numerous high-powered growing lights.

    On Thursday night, 9News promoted a story about Bartkowicz's operation, and on Friday morning, Bartkowicz was featured in a 9News story posted to its website and published in The Denver Post. The story was to air on television Friday night. He told the station he serves as a caregiver to a number of medical-marijuana patients and hoped to turn a profit this year in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    "I'm definitely living the dream now," Bartkowicz told 9News.

    One block from school

    That story — coupled with the proximity of Bartkowicz's home to Sand Creek Elementary School, a block away — drew the attention of DEA agents.

    A memo in October from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden said federal agents should not target people in "clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." The memo led many in Colorado's medical-marijuana community to believe that federal agents would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries or growers.

    But Sweetin said the memo does nothing to change federal law, which makes marijuana illegal, and instead mostly addresses treatment of medical-marijuana patients and small-scale growers.

    "Prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the department," the memo states.

    Guidelines included in the memo to distinguish between lawful medical-marijuana operations and unlawful ones include whether the operations produce more plants or generate more money than state laws intend. Sweetin said those guidelines put much of Colorado's medical-marijuana industry in the crosshairs and that he has been gathering information on dispensary owners and their operations for months.

    Risking arrest, jail time

    "Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law," he said. "The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment."

    Matt Brown, executive director of the pro-dispensary Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation, said Sweetin's statements are troubling. Brown argued that the federal memo's hands-off order covers everyone in compliance with their state's medical-marijuana laws, a group Brown said includes dispensaries in Colorado. Brown said Friday's raid highlights the need for lawmakers to create clear rules for how dispensaries should operate.

    "All we're trying to do is follow the rules," he said.

    Bartkowicz had talked to 9News about his efforts to keep a low profile and said he didn't think his neighbors knew about what he was doing inside his house. But several neighbors said Friday that they had suspicions after seeing activity late at night at the house and other puzzling activities.

    "I think it's awful," neighbor Linda Palmer said of the marijuana-growing operation. "There's an elementary school right there."

    By John Ingold
    February 13, 2010
    Denver Post
    http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_14393797

    Video can be found at Marijuana next door

Comments

  1. Raoul duke420
    Didnt our puppet of a president give the people his word that the feds would stop wasting money and resources on small time medical growers?? What bullshit.
  2. pinksox
    I do believe he was referring to the time period somewhere AFTER Cheney and Co. frisbee out a Halliburton subsidiary for growing medical marijuana. Only "the right" people will be allowed to profit from such.

    Personally, SWIM is glad to see this issue coming to a head. The Constitution states that States have a right to independent governance. This is just one more example, in an increasing chain of other, non-drug related examples, where people who are within the boundaries of their State laws are being prosecuted Federally.

    It'll take a few years for it to hit the Supreme Courts. At which time, either the feds will get their dicks slapped--but suffer no great loss really(except our tax dollars being spent on this rubbish)...or the Court will affirm the Federal Governments ABSOLUTE right to rule it's citizens regardless of State law/s.

    It would be interesting to see what would happen when, and if, States ever get pissed off enough to talk about succession.

    In the meantime, this idiot DID kinda bring this on himself. He had a nice gig going and short of throwing it up in the faces of the Feds--the schoolzone thing is pretty much Federal in origin...he likely who still be in operation today. It's going to be those who can go about their business with discretion--and stick within the rules of law(ie:not selling to ppl who may be selling inter-State, ect who aren't going to be likely to raise eyebrows.

    Also, going after a person who is growing a few plants for a couple patients--and perhaps keeping a little extra for themselves(but who isnt turning a real profit)...are the ones SWIM imagines Obama was speaking of. When one starts bragging they're going turn turn hundreds of dollars profit dealing drugs on the evening news, they ARE going to raise unwanted attention and bring the heat down upon themselves.

    SWIM believes the guy was getting into the proverbial "dick-sizing" contest by publicizing his grow-op. The Feds aren't the type to just let that behavior go unchecked. No, they're going to crucify and make an example out of him. Whatever profit he would have made is now going to be spent on attorneys fees for likely the next 5-10 years. Too bad is ego had to be larger than his sense of discretion.
  3. Raoul duke420
    Swim def agrees this guy made himself into a target, going on the evening news and such. Like dude what did you think would happen?

    But if he is a legit caretaker for some patients then the feds should stay out of it! Now some patients are out of there meds, and tax dollars are pissed away on busting and prosecuting this guy. What a joke.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    I am reminded of Hunter S thompsons bid for Sheriff in Aspen- one of the main parts of his platform: "it will be the general philosophy of the sheriff's office that no drug worth taking shall be sold for money. My first act as sheriff will be to install on the sheriffs lawn a set of stocks to punish dishonest dope dealers"

    Idiots like this are counter-productive to the hard work put in by many over the past two decades to be able to provide seriously ill patients with medicine to ease their suffering- the turtle is sick of folks using it as and run around (admittedly unjust) marijuana prohipition re: the general public.

    As to the "States rights" issue- rather ironic as this has long been the cry of the conservative republican, and was at the heart of the souths claims for seccesion and the civil war. Federal law has long trumped state law- and rightly so IMHO. without it I highly doubt abortion would be legal in many states, that women and "minorities" would enjoy the rights and protections they enjoy in many states, that environmental protections would exist in many states... narrow self interests are more often then not counter productive.

    There's a long way to go in this fight, and IMHO many are accepting and abusing their own little victories and neglecting the bigger picture.
  5. dadrone
    SWIM read this story Friday and thought "boy this guy is asking for it by bragging about his profits". No surprise here.
  6. MiMoMo
    Jailed marijuana grower: 'I'm the poster boy now'

    DENVER - The medical marijuana grower arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents after showing his operation to 9Wants to Know says he believes the DEA is hoping to make an example out of him. "I'm the poster boy now," Chris Bartkowicz told 9Wants to Know Saturday in his first interview from jail. DEA agents seized 16 boxes worth of marijuana from his Highlands Ranch house near C-470 and University Bouldevard on Friday afternoon. It was the same day a news story on his growing operation was set to air on 9NEWS. "We work hard and aren't just people who want to smoke pot all the time," Bartkowicz said. "My intent was to show that growers care for houses. We construct well-made rooms for good growing environments."

    "I figured I was in the right. I didn't figure I had anything to hide," he said. "If I am legal, why should I be in the shadows?" Bartkowicz asked 9NEWS not to give his address in the story. The night before the story ran, a neighbor called to report she suspected someone was growing marijuana in the house where Bartkowicz lived, according to a federal official. "If I knew what I was doing was illegal, I would have never made a public display of myself," he said. "I would not have put myself in the line of fire if I was knowingly violating the law."

    The United States Attorney's office will review the evidence collected and could decide Tuesday if charges will be filed against Bartkowicz. He is also expected to make his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday. "According to him and according to what he's seen on the news, he probably believes he is legal," Special Agent in Charge of Denver's DEA office Jeff Sweetin said. Sweetin says even though state law allows for medical marijuana, federal law does not. "We will continue to enforce federal law. That's what we are paid to do," Sweetin said. He says federal guidelines give him discretion and his focus is on large operations such as the one he believes Bartkowicz ran. "Discretion is: I can't send my DEA agents out on 10-plant grows. I'm not interested in that, it's not what we do. We work criminal organizations that are enterprises generating funds by distributing illegal substances," Sweetin said.

    Bartkowicz said he did not know the number of marijuana plants seized by DEA agents, but video shot by 9NEWS shows dozens of plants in his basement. He also showed 9NEWS his medical marijuana license and documentation for the people to whom he provides marijuana. "I hope to seek a resolution that conforms to state guidelines," Bartkowicz said. Sweetin left open the door to go after medical marijuana dispensaries. "The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment," he said to 9NEWS' partners at The Denver Post in a separate interview. "Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law."

    An October memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden said federal agents should not target people in "clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana," the Post reported. The memo led many in Colorado's medical-marijuana community to believe federal agents would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries or growers. Sweetin say the memo does nothing to change federal law, which makes marijuana illegal, and instead mostly addresses treatment of medical-marijuana patients and small-scale growers.

    The Denver federal prosecutor's office confirmed it is interested in sizeable operations.
    A spokesman for the office said he could not comment on Sweetin's remarks about dispensaries. "The U.S. Attorney's office focuses its goal on prosecuting large-scale drug traffickers," said Jeff Dorschner, U.S. Attorney's office spokesman.

    By Jeffrey Wolf & Jace Larson
    February 13, 2010
    9NEWS.com Denver, Colorado
    (KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)
    article link already removed

  7. MiMoMo
    Attorney files complaint against DEA

    DENVER - A medical marijuana lawyer says he's filed a complaint with the Justice Department after Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested a man running a large medical marijuana operation in Highlands Ranch. "What we are doing with this letter is filing a formal complaint with the Inspector General, Department of Justice which is tasked with investigating waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct. I think these actions yesterday fit all those categories," Attorney Rob Corry told 9Wants to Know Saturday.

    DEA agents seized more than 150 marijuana plants from Chris Bartkowicz's house Friday near C-470 and University Boulevard, according to DEA Spokesman Mike Turner. A federal official told 9NEWS a neighbor called the DEA after becoming concerned Bartkowicz was growing marijuana in the house.

    Corry's letter to the Justice Department called for action to be taken against DEA Special Agent in Charge Jeff Sweetin, who ordered Friday's raid. "I don't think they fully understand what they are doing. I don't think they fully understand the outrage from Colorado's population if they continue with this campaign of fear an intimidation," Corry told 9NEWS. "I think it's a tactical error on their part and I think it's over reaching and the people will rise up and have something to say about this," he said.

    Saturday night Sweetin responded in a statement to 9NEWS. "DEA has received significant community support, especially from the Highlands Ranch community, of our enforcement actions yesterday. The targeting of criminal enterprises that profit significantly from the cultivation and distribution of marijuana remain a priority of the Department and DEA," he wrote. "We will continue to do our job - to enforce the federal drug laws of the United States," Sweetin added.
    Sweetin says even though state law allows for medical marijuana, federal law does not.

    Bartkowicz was arrested the same day a news story on his medical marijuana growing operation was set to air on 9NEWS. "I'm the poster boy now," Bartkowicz told 9Wants to Know in an interview from jail. He said he believed his operation followed medical marijuana laws and wanted to show the public growers can be responsible. "We work hard and aren't just people who want to smoke pot all the time," Bartkowicz said. "My intent was to show that growers care for houses. We construct well-made rooms for good growing environments. I figured I was in the right. I didn't figure I had anything to hide," he said. "If I am legal, why should I be in the shadows?"

    The United States Attorney's office will review the evidence collected and could decide Tuesday if charges will be filed against Bartkowicz. He is also expected to make his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday.

    By Jace Larson
    February 13, 1010
    9News.com
    http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=132739&catid=339
    video link: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/local_links.php?action=ratelink&catid=126&linkid=8612
    (KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)
  8. Motorhead
    Actually MiMoMo, adding video to the file archive is not difficult. The instructions can be found here in the FAQ. What I usually do is add the video to the archive, then link to that location in my post if I want to direct traffic to the videos. Could you please edit your post to this format.
  9. pinksox
    Except, IF this man followed the States law to the letter(and SWIM does mean to the letter) and sold only to licensed patients, in proper amounts, kept meticulous documentation(this is a big killer), never sold inter-state, nor kept more than the stipulated number of plants per patient, etc then he's NOT a "criminal" by his State's definition. And, since he was within the confines of his State SWIM feels the State has an obligation to protect IT'S citizens from abuse--even by Federal authorities.

    As SWIM said before...only the "right" people will ever be allow to make significant profit off this industry. SWIM does wonder if the gentleman was planning on filing his tax returns. Or what he has been declaring as income source whilst building his outfit the the point he had. If the Feds don't get him one way, they'll get him another.

    Anyone planning on making a legitimate go of medicinal marijuana had best make sure they dot all their I's and cross every T. And keep detailed, meticulous documentation. And follow the letter of the law to the minutest little detail. SWIM does believe that States will end up caving to Federal Government and putting in limits to how many plants are allowed per patients. And, if grown by a person other than themselves, they will specify a certain number of patients any particular grower can cultivate for. This will keep legitimate growers from gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales--and keep the DEA happy as well.

    SWIM wishes the States would stand up to the Feds. But, in the end, she highly doubts they will. Truth is most States don't want people making hundreds of thousands of dollars selling medicinal marijuana either--not unless there's a taxable profit in it for them. SWIM will predict it wont be long before some politico says something very close to, "it's despicable how these "drug dealers" are exploiting these patients by making such large profits." They'll say that without even stopped to think how assinine they'll make themselves look because big insurance has made billions and billions yearly profiting off the misfortune of others.
  10. chillinwill
    Colorado lawmakers say raid shows need for marijuana rules

    Drug Enforcement Administration isn't supposed to target anyone who is in clear compliance with state laws


    Lawmakers trying to regulate Colorado's expanding medical marijuana industry say last week's raid of a grass-growing operation highlights the need to clarify which operations are legal and which aren't.

    Under the Obama administration's new policy, the Drug Enforcement Administration isn't supposed to target anyone who is in clear compliance with state laws that allow the use of medical marijuana. But Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said Monday it's not clear exactly what compliance means under Colorado's law.

    The law allows patients to possess up to two ounces of marijuana or for caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants for each patient. However, the law also allows them to claim it was medically necessary for them to grow more.

    It doesn't address dispensaries and who can sell medical marijuana to patients not growing their own.

    On Friday, DEA agents removed over 120 marijuana plants from the Highlands Ranch home of a man who said he was a medical marijuana provider. Special agent Jeffrey Sweetin said he became suspicious because the homeowner told the media he expected to make up to $400,000 a year. He also said he was concerned because the grow was in a residential neighborhood near an elementary school and the power needed to grow marijuana poses a safety hazard.

    Massey and Romer have proposed creating a state authority to license dispensaries, which they want to convert to non-profit marijuana centers. Centers would have to pay a licensing fee and be subject to inspections. They would also have to grow their own marijuana.

    "Hopefully, when the session ends there will be clear guidelines, and we won't have this uncertainty and ambiguity," Massey said.

    Dispensaries agree they're on shaky ground without clear state regulations. But many don't like the ones on the table now.

    Matt Brown, executive director of Coloradans for Medical Marijuana Regulation, a coalition of medical marijuana dispensaries and patients, said requiring dispensaries to grow their own pot would be easier for the state to regulate but would eventually put smaller operations out of business.

    He said dispensaries are hoping to make changes to the proposal (House Bill 1284), perhaps borrowing some ideas from how the state regulates other industries. For example, he said top-level casino employees are more strictly regulated than employees on the casino floor, which might be a better way to regulate dispensaries.

    He thinks large-scale grows, like the one in Highlands Ranch, should be limited to industrial and agricultural areas with the power lines to accommodate them.

    People growing marijuana for up to five patients would be able to grow up to 30 plants at their homes under the Massey-Romer bill. Unless the state issues a waiver, anyone serving more than five people would have to be licensed.

    The bill isn't set to get its first hearing until March 4 because lawmakers want to finish balancing this year's budget first. Another proposal (Senate Bill 109) that would bar doctors from writing recommendations inside dispensaries has passed the Senate and could be debated in the House at the end of next week.

    Some medical marijuana advocates, meanwhile, are preparing to take their own set of regulations to the ballot if they think lawmakers end up making it too difficult for patients to get marijuana.

    COLLEEN SLEVIN
    February 15, 2010
    Vali Daily
    http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20100215/NEWS/100219642/1062&parentprofile=1062
  11. Wanderer
    Chris Bartkowicz Case: Federal Judge Rules AGAINST Pot Grower's Medical Marijuana Def

    Chris Bartkowicz Case: Federal Judge Rules AGAINST Pot Grower's Medical Marijuana Defense

    [IMGL="white"]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=16305&stc=1&d=1282232835[/IMGL]DENVER — A Colorado pot grower facing federal drug charges after he bragged about his marijuana business to a TV station won't be allowed to use the state's medical marijuana law in his defense.

    U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer has sided with federal prosecutors in their case against Chris Bartkowicz (BART-ko-wits).

    Federal drug authorities raided Bartkowicz's suburban Denver home and he was indicted in May with a federal charge of cultivating marijuana. Bartkowicz says he was following state medical marijuana rules.

    Federal prosecutors said Bartkowicz had more plants than the state permits, but also said state laws on marijuana wouldn't matter in a federal court.

    Marijuana activists say growers are being targeted by federal authorities despite state laws.



    Staff Reporter
    Associated Press
    Posted: 08/19/10 10:57 AM
    HuffingtonPost.com


    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/19/chris-bartkowicz-case-fed_n_687613.html
  12. Terrapinzflyer
  13. Terrapinzflyer
    Highlands Ranch medical-marijuana grower sentenced to five years[/B

    A federal judge sentenced a self-described Highlands Ranch medical-marijuana grower to five years in prison Friday, saying the man "miserably failed" to follow the law.

    Christopher Bartkowicz — whose basement marijuana-growing operation was raided by Drug Enforcement Administration agents last year on the day an interview Bartkowicz conducted with 9News was to air — also was sentenced to eight years of supervision following his release from prison. Bartkowicz is the first person in Colorado to serve federal prison time for actions he maintained were legal under Colorado's medical-marijuana law.

    But federal District Court Judge Philip Brimmer rejected that assertion Friday, saying Bartkowicz grew more plants than state law allows and never met many of the patients who used his marijuana. That, Brimmer said, means the case is not an example of the federal government's interfering with state law but rather fits with Bartkowicz's three prior state-level marijuana convictions. Any marijuana growing is illegal under federal law.

    "He's choosing to violate state law again, and he's cultivating marijuana," Brimmer said.

    Agents seized more than 100 plants from Bartkowicz's house when they raided it in February. Bartkowicz said he was a medical-marijuana caregiver to several patients and sold the rest to legal dispensaries.

    Prosecutors and Bartkowicz agreed to the sentence length as part of a plea deal Bartkowicz signed in October. Bartkowicz lost a bid to raise a medical defense in the case, which left him with little legal cover. Because of his prior drug convictions, Bartkowicz could have received a life sentence under the original charges.

    Joseph Saint-Veltri, Bartkowicz's attorney, said the deal was the best his client could hope for but said the resolution was still surreal.

    "This all seems like a script written by Lewis Carroll," Saint-Veltri said during the hearing, in reference to the "Alice in Wonderland" author.

    "Hundreds of (marijuana) plants," Saint-Veltri added later, "are being cultivated within a mile radius of this building as we speak, and they will continue to be cultivated . . . because the people of Colorado want that to happen."

    Federal authorities said they targeted Bartkowicz because he grew more plants than Colorado law allowed, because he had prior drug convictions, and because his operation was about two blocks from a school.

    "Five years is a long time," Assistant U.S. Attorney M.J. Menendez said during the sentencing hearing. ". . . It's going to allow him time to get treatment, and it's going to give him time to reflect on what brought him here today."

    Outside the federal courthouse before the sentencing, about 20 medical-marijuana activists gathered to protest. They held signs bearing messages such as, "Cannabis is not criminal," and they accused the DEA of making an example out of Bartkowicz in retaliation for the 9News interview.


    by John Ingold
    January 29, 2011

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17233217
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