CONFLICT BETWEEN STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS IN DENVER MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE
Sept. 24, 2010
A Colorado man arrested for growing medical marijuana saw his defense take a serious blow this week when a U.S. District Judge sided with federal prosecutors. Christopher Bartkowicz, a Denver resident who was arrested in February for growing pot in his basement, attempted to argue that he should not face criminal prosecution based on memos from the Obama administration. The memos from the Department of Justice suggested that the U.S. government would not pursue pot cases in states that allow medical marijuana. However U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer sided with federal prosecutors who argued the memos aren’t the same as making marijuana legal under federal law and that memos from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder do not grant permission to grow marijuana without fear of federal prosecution. With two previous drug convictions, Bartkowicz faces a possible life sentence if convicted. His trial begins Nov. 1.
Despite signals from the Obama administration about respecting state medical marijuana laws,Denver criminal defense attorneys say the ruling creates a conflict between state and federal marijuana laws that leaves medical marijuana patients and state official in legal limbo.