Despite Obama Admin’s Promise, DEA Continues Raids on Medical Marijuana Growers

On Thursday, a Denver news station interviewed Chris Bartkowicz about his medical-marijuana operation in the basement of his home. Bartkowicz, confident of his compliance with state laws, boasted of its size and profitability.

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

The following day, drug-enforcement agents raided his home, placed him under arrest, and carried off dozens of black bags of marijuana plants and growing lights.

The Obama administration promised in October that the federal government would respect state laws allowing the growing and selling of marijuana for medicinal use, but the Drug Enforcement Agency sent a loud message with the arrest of Bartkowicz.

"It's still a violation of federal law," said Jeffrey Sweetin,  the DEA special agent in charge of the Denver office. "It's not medicine. We're still going to continue to investigate and arrest people."

The United States Attorney's office will decide Tuesday if charges will be filed against Bartkowicz.

In an interview from his jail cell, Bartkowicz said he believes the DEA is making an example of him. He would never have exposed himself if he believed his business was illegal.

"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."

Sweetin wasn't surprised by Bartkowicz' confidence.

"According to him and according to what he's seen on the news, he probably believes he is legal," Sweetin said.

And according to Sweetin, it isn't just growers who face arrest. The dispensaries are next on the list.

"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 The Denver Post. "Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law."

Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden told federal agents in an October memo to not target people in "clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."

Sweetin said the memo does nothing to change federal law, which makes marijuana illegal.

The difference between the Obama administration's stated mission to end the "war on drugs" and the actual enforcement of that policy by DEA agents may not come as a surprise to those who have seen the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) budget for fiscal year 2011.

"We're not at war with people in this country," Kerlikowske told The Wall Street Journal in May.

But according to 2011 funding "highlights" released by the ONDCP (PDF link), the Obama administration is growing the drug war and tilting its funds heavily toward law enforcement over treatment.

During the interview in his jail cell, Bartkowicz said he realized his arrest is the center of a national debate and defended his right to publicly declare his business.

"I'm the poster boy now," he said. "If I am legal, why should I be in the shadows?"

- Article from the Raw Story.


Jailed marijuana grower: 'I'm the poster boy now'

by Jeffrey Wolf and Jace Larson, 9News

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.

- Article from the 9News.

Comments

FUCK!

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK
WHY THE FUCK DOES IT KEEP SAYING I'M SPAM? I TYPE A LONG POST THEN IT SAYS I'M SPAM.....FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!

Same here Jomila

I seemed to be blocked as a spammer. I AM NOT! I fired up a proxy to post this. Its a downer being someone helping for the cause but am not allowed to speak.

And the dog and pony show

And the dog and pony show continues so they can rape the taxpayers out of 15 billion a year.yet rapists and pedifiles serve hardly any time because we don't have a PEA to fund

cat and mouse

haveing a State voter approved med pot law is like bate for the mice and the cats wait for the easy lunch and the fat rats keep running underground and are never seen by the cat.

what a jack ass...

he really needs to sue for his plants....if he was in state law he needs to sue in state court for the loss

Illegal Grow Operations

Regardless of what state law defines marijuana medically legal,the DEA will take your operations down and arrest you..The Federal Law prohibits cultivation and distribution..Believe me I served Federal Time and know something about this subject..I would love to see it legalized but until it's a nationwide vote not just states like Ca.and wherever else medical marijuana is the Feds will bust you and your profit down and seize your property also..Be Careful doing this..Be Discreet..They will get you sooner or later..It's the law of the land not California's

fix the spam filter

what's going on here?

what's new?

Everything else this administration has ever said to get elected is a big lie, Dr Roy Masters said it best this administration is communist and they are turning this country into a prison camp. we don't want communism.

ITS ALL ABOUT THE PROFITS!!

i grow pot in oregon, with my OMMP card, legal. cost my $14.33 to $31.09 per ounce to grow outside. i dont sell, because its illegal to sell in most states' medical marijuana programs. GROW IT, SMOKE IT, DONT SELL IT!!! ITS ALL ABOUT THE PROFITS!!

about the spam??

this post was my second post, my first said spamming. it was long, but true without cussing. they trying to stop the business "free" ADS!!

Advertisement

Advertisement

Related Articles

Jessica Corry, The Huffington Post
Mar 9 2010
A group of conservative and liberal lawmakers are teaming up to tell the federal government to butt out of the legislative...
Erica Meltzer, Daily Camera
Jan 24 2012
A group of medical marijuana advocates and business owners are calling for a Medical Marijuana Day of Action on Wednesday to...
Cannabis Culture
Nov 18 2011
CANNABIS CULTURE - Watch Cannabis Culture News LIVE for the latest news and views on pot politics and the marijuana community....

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement