Chris Bartkowicz, the medical marijuana grower busted by the Drug Enforcement Administration in February after an on-camera interview with 9News, is hoping that a gaffe by the Associated Press isn't a foretelling of the future.
The online article, an update of an earlier piece that was picked up by several media outlets, including yesterday's Denver Post, incorrectly said that federal prosecutors had decided to not allow Bartkowicz to use state medical marijuana laws in his defense. Actually, prosecutors filed a motion on Tuesday that could limit Bartkowicz's defense, but Judge Phillip Brimmer has not yet made a ruling on it. Below is the text of the inaccurate AP story:
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
If the flawed article, which was pulled off the web yesterday, does come true, Bartkowicz says that his ability to have a fair trial is out the window. "It would be completely crippling to me," he adds. "As far as the feds are concerned, I have no legal ground to stand on. They are trying to separate what they see as the facts from what they see as public opinion."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
His defense attorney has pushed for the trial to be dismissed for suppression of evidence, saying that the search and subsequent arrest were illegal to begin with. Bartkowicz also takes issue with the possibility of spending life in prison when suspected local drug kingpin Dan Tang received just an eighteen-month sentence.
Bartkowicz says he feels like he's been living in a "time vortex" waiting for his trial. "I went from having a normal life -- maybe even a bit better than average -- to everything being put on hold," he explains. "I've lost nearly every possession I owned except my clothing."
Ironically, Bartkowicz -- a medical marijuana patient for chronic pain from scoliosis and temporomandibular joint disorder -- says he hasn't been able to use marijuana in months.
For more from Chris Bartkowicz, check out Steve Elliot's interview on our sister blog, Toke of the Town.