Update, 11:08 a.m.: Colorado Attorney General candidate Stan Garnett has released a statement calling on incumbent John Suthers to request the "U.S. attorney promptly and fairly reach a proportionate and just resolution of this case."
Garnett says the prosecution of Bartkowicz is "unjust and unnecessary."
"Colorado needs thoughtful leadership on these complex legal matters," Garnett says. "Mr. Suthers' commitment to states' rights and federalism is selective, and he raises the issue only if it comports with his socially conservative views."
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As expected, Highlands Ranch grower Chris Bartkowicz has lost his first battle in federal court. Slapped with federal drug charges after touring a Denver TV news crew around his MMJ-filled basement, he had hoped to argue that he should be shielded by Colorado's medical marijuana laws.
"Federal law is supreme on this particular point," says Federal District Judge Philip Brimmer, as reported in the Denver Post.
Bartkowicz reportedly contended that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's October 2009 memo regarding medical marijuana "provides legal shelter for people operating in compliance with state medical-marijuana laws," says the Post.
Assistant U.S. Attorney M.J. Menendez disputed that reading, saying the memo made clear it could not be used as a defense against federal prosecution. Brimmer agreed.
"To the extent he based his takeaway points on a hopeful interpretation rather than the terms of it is unreasonable," Brimmer said.
Here's the portion of Holder's memo that does indeed "make it clear":
This memorandum does not alter in any way the Department’s authority to enforce federal law, including laws prohibiting the manufacture, production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on federal property. This guidance regarding resource allocation does not “legalize” marijuana or provide a legal defense to a violation of federal law [emphasis added], nor is it intended to create any privileges, benefits, or rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any individual, party or witness in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
There is a proposed resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Truth in Trials Act that would "amend title 18, United States Code, to provide an affirmative defense for the medical use of marijuana," but the bill is currently stuck in committee.
In the meantime, Bartkowicz's trial is tentatively scheduled to start Nov. 1.
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