September 23, 2010

Colorado Patient Chris Bartkowicz Denied Medical Defense by Feds

September 23, 2010
Chris Bartkowicz

This was sent to us from our friends in Denver. This is the same person who was busted basically as a result of an interview he did back in February for a local television station. Half of the “plants” he was caught with were not mature but the Feds still counted them to bloat the total and make him look like a big time drug kingpin. I was going to write an article about this today but CTI covered all the bases, including links for contacting politicians in Colorado.

Activists Pressure Congress to Clarify Policy

For more information, contact the: Cannabis Therapy Institute

Denver – In a ruling on Wednesday (9/22) that is sending chills through
every medical marijuana provider in Colorado and nationwide, patient Chris
Bartkowicz has been denied the use of a medical marijuana defense in
federal court. Chris is facing federal charges of marijuana cultivation
after he was interviewed for a KUSA 9 News story about medical marijuana
cultivation. Chris is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 years in


At a motion’s hearing on Wednesday in federal court, it was clear that the
feds have stacked the deck effectively against state rights to regulate
medical marijuana. The Honorable Federal District Judge Philip Brimmer
ruled against Chris’ court-appointed attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri, on
almost every point. Chris’s prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney M.J.
Menendez, said that marijuana had been on the controlled substances list
“since the beginning of time” and that the feds recognize no exemption for
medical marijuana, even if cultivated in compliance with state law.

Saint-Veltri argued that Chris’ case was selective prosecution, given that
there are hundreds of people in Colorado currently cultivating medical
marijuana who have not yet been raided by the feds. Saint-Veltri pointed
out that Budding Health dispensary owner Josh Stanley was also featured in
the KUSA segment as a marijuana grower, but was never raided or

Saint-Veltri argued that Chris was acting in good faith and sincerely
believed that he was in violation of neither state nor federal law. Chris
testified that he felt the federal climate had changed with regard to
federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients after Obama’s election.
Chris testified that he had relied on US Attorney General Eric Holder’s
statements on March 19, 2009 that he would not prosecute dispensaries.
These statements made world-wide news, with the LA Times calling it “a
landmark turnaround from the Bush administration’s policy of zero tolerance
for cannabis use by patients.”

In addition, Chris relied on a memo of Oct. 19, 2009 from David W. Ogden,
U.S. Deputy Attorney General to selected US Attorneys. The Ogden memo,
which was also widely publicized by the Department of Justice, gave
guidance to federal prosecutors about allocation of resources to prosecute
medical marijuana cases. The Ogden memo said that medical marijuana cases
were “unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.”

Saint-Veltri also stated that Chris had been relying on signals from the
state that they had worked out some sort of “accord” with the DEA about not
prosecuting Colorado dispensary owners. Specifically, Saint-Veltri wanted
to question Matt Cook, head of the Department of Revenue’s Medical
Marijuana Enforcement Division, who had stated in a recent Kush magazine
article that “medical marijuana centers or infused products manufacturers
should not be targeted by the DEA.”

Saint-Veltri wanted to question Cook about his meetings and conversations
with the DEA regarding enforcement of federal law. Cook fought his subpoena
to testify. Cook’s attorney Pam Rosenberg admitted that Cook had had
conversations with the DEA, but said that his testimony would be
“irrelevant.” Judge Brimmer ruled that Cook did not have to testify based
on a technicality of improper service of the subpoena.

Assistant U.S. Attorney M.J. Menendez said that the feds have every
intention of continuing to prosecute medical marijuana patients and
providers, regardless of state laws. She stated that the DEA has reached
“no accord” with Matt Cook regarding federal prosecutions of medical
marijuana patients or providers.

Menendez stated that Holder statement in March 2009 was just a “loose
remark” and that the Ogden memo states clearly that “this guidance
regarding resource allocation does not . . . provide a legal defense to a
violation of federal law.”

Menendez argued that “a reasonable person would not rely on statements made
by Holder or Obama.”

Menendez concluded that “every statement in the record by the federal
government says the government will continue to prosecute” medical
marijuana patients and providers.

In the end, Judge Brimmer ruled that Chris cannot present a medical
marijuana defense at his trial. “Anyone reading (the memos) would quite
clearly understand that cultivating marijuana is a violation of federal
law,” Brimmer said.

Judge Brimmer says Chris Bartkowicz is one of two medical marijuana
patients currently being prosecuted in his court. It is unknown how many
other patients are currently being prosecuted by the feds.

Chris’ trial is scheduled for Nov. 1. He faces a mandatory minimum of 60
years in prison. He rejected an earlier plea bargain offer because it would
have required him to turn someone else over to the feds. Chris refuses to
become a snitch and will stand up for his rights, and the rights of all
other Colorado patients and providers, at his jury trial.


Call and write your Federal Senators and Representatives:

1) Request that they send a “clarification of policy” letter to the
Department of Justice requesting clarification of their official policy of
prosecuting medical marijuana cases. Tell them Colorado patients need to
know they are safe from federal prosecution.

2) Ask that House Members co-sponsor HR3939, the Truth in Trials Act, which
would provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana in
federal court. Rep. Jared Polis is currently the only Colorado co-sponsor
of this Bill.

Please send copies of any correspondence to:
[email protected]



(Represent entire state.)

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)

(Represent people by district.)

Find your district:

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-01)

Rep. Jared Polis (D – 02)

Rep. John Salazar (D – 03)

Rep. Betsy Markey (D – 04)

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R – 05)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R – 06)

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D – 07)

Please copy and re-distribute this announcement.
Help us continue to advocate on behalf of patient rights:

Provided as a Public Service by the:
Cannabis Therapy Institute
P.O. Box 19084
Boulder, CO 80308
Phone: 877-420-4205
Email: [email protected]


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