Medical marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz's seized weed: The DEA ordered not to destroy all of it

The arrest of Highlands Ranch's Chris Bartkowicz after he showed off his medical marijuana grow to a reporter at 9News has prompted complaints from the likes of Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente, who helped organize a protest prior to yesterday's appearance by President Barack Obama, as well as comments by U.S. Attorney David Gaouette defending the actions of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The bust also prompted reporter Joel Warner to ask the DEA what would happen to the 224 plants confiscated from Bartkowicz's home. The answer: The agency's policy is to hold onto a small quantity of the bounty for testing to prove that it's actually marijuana; the rest is then incinerated once an official destruction order is obtained.

But some of Bartkowicz's stock will avoid immediate blazing, thanks to a judge's ruling earlier today.

According to 9News, Bartkowicz's attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri, asked that the court require the DEA to preserve the plants taken from his client's home.

In response, the DEA displayed a seized plant, which reportedly "had its root system and appeared wilted but not dried."

Nonetheless, Saint-Veltri deemed the marijuana too far gone to be "maintained" in a healthy state -- something DEA spokesman Mike Turner characterized to Warner as a big pain in the neck. But he asked that some of the plants be retained for later testing. The judge agreed, and a DEA spokesman told 9News the agency will comply with the order to keep ten plants and ten clones on hand.

Which will presumably give the DEA property room a fragrant aroma for quite some time to come.

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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