Colorado: Medical Marijuana Lawyer Files Complaint On DEA Raid

February 16, 2010 – DENVER — Colorado’s top federal drug agent is defending his decision to raid a suburban house where marijuana was being grown but said he has no plans to start cracking down on the hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries that have popped up around the state.

Jeffrey Sweetin, Denver’s Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, said agents removed over 120 marijuana plants from the Highlands Ranch home of Chris Bartkowicz on Friday.

Sweetin said agents learned about the operation after seeing a story on a local Web site about Bartkowicz and becoming suspicious, partly because he said he would like to earn around $400,000 a year from selling marijuana.

“Four-hundred-thousand dollars a year goes beyond ‘I’m just a caregiver for sick people,”‘ Sweetin said Sunday.

Sweetin said he was also concerned because the grow was occurring in a residential neighborhood near an elementary school, and the power needed to grow marijuana can be a safety hazard. All those details factored into his decision to send agents to the home, he said.

Robert Corry, a lawyer who specializes in representing medical marijuana patients, said that decision violated the Obama administration’s new policy on enforcing drug laws in the 14 states that allow medical marijuana.

Corry on Saturday filed a complaint alleging waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct against the Justice Department and the DEA, asking the department’s inspector general to discipline Sweetin and the other agents involved.

The new policy, laid out in a three-page memo in October, states that authorities shouldn’t target those who are in clear compliance with their state laws on medical marijuana but that they should still be on the lookout for those posing as medical marijuana operators but marketing pot illegally. The memo says some indicators that people aren’t in compliance are if the amounts of marijuana and the financial gains aren’t consistent with what’s allowed under state law.

Bartkowicz was violating state law because he wasn’t taking care of enough patients to warrant growing more than 120 plants, Sweetin said.

Colorado’s voter-approved law allows patients to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, or for them or their caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants for each patient. However, the law also allows people to assert in court that they need more marijuana to treat patient ailments. Corry said it’s possible that could be the case with Bartkowicz.

Sweetin also doesn’t think the state law allows people to sell marijuana, though Corry claims it does. The law doesn’t spell out how people who don’t grow their own marijuana get their pot. However, the law does make a reverse reference to it by prohibiting people from selling or transporting it for any reasons besides medical reasons.

Sweetin said he doesn’t believe dispensaries are allowed under Colorado’s law either but he’s not going to be going “door to door” investigating them because there are simply too many. It’s up to the state to decide what to do about them and lawmakers are trying to decide how to do that, he said.

But Sweetin also said that he keeps track of dispensaries and will probe any that raises red flags for him, such as any suspected ties to drug cartels, violence or the sale of weapons.

“I have to make sure that I’m not trying to become the enforcer and the regulator of medical marijuana because I don’t have the resources for it,” he said. Source.

One response to “Colorado: Medical Marijuana Lawyer Files Complaint On DEA Raid”

  1. Complaint hell!! Try Lawsuit!!!!
    In His Own Words,
    “It’s still a violation of federal law,” Sweetin said. “It’s not medicine. We’re still going to continue to investigate and arrest people.” A Blatant Disregard of the Voters` Wishes.
    If he gets away with doing this to people now, He will continue, He`s just getting started, And More Federal agents in other States will follow if they see that there is no adverse consequences for him, He needs to be stopped Here and NOW!

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