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Marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz sentenced to five years

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This morning, Highlands Ranch's Chris Bartkowicz was sentenced to five years in prison, to be followed by eight years on supervised probation, for federal marijuana cultivation charges.

Bartkowicz will also undergo mandatory drug and mental health programs

Judge Phillip Brimmer accepted a plea deal and handed down the sentence this morning as Bartkowicz, clad in a yellow prison jumpsuit and sporting a heavy beard, sat expressionless. The plea deal prevents a jury trial where Bartkowicz would have faced a sentence of between ten and forty years in prison.

Since his initial arrest last year for growing plants in Highlands Ranch and talking about it on 9News, Bartkowicz has maintained that he was following state laws as a medical marijuana caregiver. However, Brimmer said Bartkowicz "miserably failed" to follow state law. Brimmer noted that Bartkowicz did not have nearly enough patients for the amount of plants he was growing.

Bartkowicz was immediately handcuffed and led out by U.S. Marshals, giving a brief smile to his friends in the gallery. Outside of the courtroom, several of Bartkowicz's supporters fought back tears.

Lanette Johnson, chapter leader for Moms for Marijuana and a friend of Bartkowicz's, was outside protesting before the sentencing with roughly a dozen others. Afterward, she said that no matter how much she prepared herself to hear the sentencing, it was still hard. "It's better than sixty years," she acknowledged. "But it's still sad. It's sad to watch, and the [eight years of probation] is just frustrating." More from our Marijuana archive: "Chris Bartkowicz medical marijuana protest rally photo gallery: 'No Prison For Pot.'"

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