Major Marijuana Case Heads to Federal Court

September 23 2010, 3:00 PM

Christopher Bartkowicz, who was busted by the feds and charged with growing illegal drugs in his home after granting 9News an interview about medical marijuana in February, failed to have his case dismissed in court on Wednesday. U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer said dropping the case would be tantamount to overriding the laws established by Congress, according to The Denver Post. Bartkowicz may face up to life in prison if found guilty.

His attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri, points to Colorado's Constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana and a 2009 Justice Department memo instructing federal agents not to go after people in seeming compliance with state medical marijuana laws. The federal government contends Bartkowicz was growing illegal marijuana and had more plants than state law allows near a school. Brimmer also rejected an argument to dismiss the case on the basis that Bartkowicz was growing new strains of pot with medical value that are wrongly listed as illegal, according to 9News.

The possible sentence looming for Bartkowicz, who has prior convictions for marijuana, stuns Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado, one of several marijuana advocacy organizations that protested for Bartkowicz. "This is an incredible miscarriage of justice," Vicente tells Westword. "And we're trying to draw attention to the fact that we have a Colorado citizen who's facing life in prison for growing marijuana medically. And beyond that, they're attempting to not even allow him to bring a medical defense, or to even say the word 'medical' in court."