April 19 2010, 10:38 AM
Chris Bartkowicz, the Highlands Ranch man who was thrust into the national spotlight after being busted for growing what he says was medical marijuana, is now turning down a deal in which he was expected to plead guilty to drug charges that could have led to a lengthy prison term. The feds say he had more plants than the state permits and, moreover, that the state law on medical marijuana doesn't apply in federal court, leading to an outcry, including from Congressman Jared Polis, that medical growers shouldn't be targeted. Bartkowicz, who was raided after talking to 9News about his growing operation, is now seeking to clear his name. He plans to change his plea to not guilty but won't tell The Associated Press more. "I'd love to put this story straight, but I'll let the court figure it out," he says. As the Colorado Springs Gazette notes in a separate story, parts of the booming industry remain cloudy, including clarifications on who can sell medical pot and how it can be distributed. In the meantime, legally obtained doses can still get users fired, jailed, convicted of a DUI, or turned down for foster-parent jobs.