Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Colo. pot case highlights growers' worries - The Denver Post

Colo. pot case highlights growers' worries - The Denver Post
DENVER—Pot smoker Chris Bartkowicz thought he had hit pay dirt, bragging to a local television station he would make $400,000 off a basement medical marijuana operation in a well-heeled Denver suburb where neighbors had no idea what he was growing.

A day after KUSA-TV aired a tease about his story in February, the Drug Enforcement Administration paid a visit, seizing more than 200 plants and charging Bartkowicz with cultivating marijuana, a federal crime punishable by five to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

The first-of-its-kind case since Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000 has alarmed growers across Colorado, prompted a U.S. congressman to decry federal drug enforcement and put Denver's DEA chief on the defensive.

The case underscores the ongoing pressure points over the use of medical marijuana. Bartkowicz had state medical clearance to smoke pot and was a designated grower for other patients. But U.S. prosecutors say even if he was following state guidelines, the drug remains illegal under federal law, despite the Obama administration's decision to relax prosecution guidelines for medical marijuana last year.

Bartkowicz's lawyer, Joseph Saint-Veltri, has declined comment but submitted a legal brief saying Colorado law should be respected. He even quoted a Federalist Paper penned by James Madison extolling states' right to legislate "lives, liberties and properties of the people."

Jeff Sweetin, special agent in charge of the DEA's Rocky Mountain Region, said state and local police hesitate to go after pot growers because of the conflict between state and federal law. Federal authorities are the only ones left to enforce marijuana laws, he said.

"I'm not here to be the regulator of medical marijuana," Sweetin said, adding he'd prefer to "work the highest-level drug-trafficking organizations."

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