Medical marijuana arrest: Chris Bartkowicz bust DEA's declaration that drug war not over

Last week's DEA raid of Genovations, a Colorado Springs medical marijuana laboratory, was the second time in recent weeks that the agency had swooped in on a lab that had applied for a license in an attempt to prove its forthrightness and responsibility; the same scenario played out in January at Full Spectrum Laboratories.

But these searches and seizures were mere prelude to the Friday arrest of Chris Bartkowicz, who had created a marijuana grow in the basement of his Highlands Ranch home. His invitation to the DEA? A story on 9News that appears to have embarrassed authorities so much that they decided to punish Bartkowicz for his willingness to bring his story up from the underground.

Medical marijuana advocates have denounced these arrests, arguing that they violate the spirit of an October memorandum from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden stating that the Justice Department should defer to states that have legalized medical marijuana -- a policy decried by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, among others.

Now, however, it's clear that Representative Tom Massey's medical marijuana bill, which was once thought to slavishly mimic law enforcement's desires on this issue, would actually liberalize policy well beyond the comfort point for the DEA.

When viewed in this light, the Bartkowicz arrest seems to be considerably more than just the smacking down of a guy who may have gotten prematurely comfortable with his business situation. It's also the DEA's de facto declaration of war against the pro-marijuana forces.

Here's the 9News piece featuring Bartkowicz:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts