Chris Bartkowicz: Plea shows jailed MMJ grower thought he was following CO law, Obama memo
Update: Westword has obtained the plea agreement signed by Chris Bartkowicz, the Highlands Ranch home grower brought up on federal drug charges even though he said he was growing marijuana for medical purposes. The document, on view below in its entirety, shows that he was confident from the beginning he'd done nothing wrong.
Bartkowicz was jailed yesterday, and he must remain behind bars until January 28, when he'll learn if a judge will accept a deal for a five-year sentence -- a scenario he clearly didn't anticipate following a February search of his home, as demonstrated by the Chris Bartkowicz signed plea agreement.
The document's narrative notes that Bartkowicz was "very calm and composed" when he sat down with agents Mark Kopper and Matt Stoneberger. He told Stoneberger "he thought he was in compliance with state law and when DEA agents asked to come in and see his marijuana plants, he was fine with that but he did not foresee them considering his marijuana grow to be illegal," the agreement states.
He subsequently told Kopper "he was aware that marijuana was 'federally illegal,' but based on 'Holder's' and/or 'Obama's' announcement or memorandum, he though that federal law enforcement would no longer be expending assets in those states where marijuana is 'legal.'"
This comment is a reference to an October 2009 memo by deputy U.S. attorney general David Ogden, representing the Obama administration's Justice Department, directing federal agents not to spend precious resources going after "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."
Questions have been raised about whether Bartkowicz was following all of Colorado's rules pertaining to his ratio of plants to patients, among other things. But a September ruling precluded him from using Colorado's medical marijuana laws as a defense, rendering such arguments moot -- and leading to a plea agreement that's still unofficial.
Page down to read the plea agreement in its entirety, as well as to read updates on the most recent developments in the Bartkowicz case: