A Colorado pot grower who tried unsuccessfully to use state medical marijuana law in his defense on federal drug charges has said he now plans to plead guilty.
Christopher Bartkowicz, of Highlands Ranch, was scheduled to change his plea on Thursday. Court spokesman Jeff Dorschner said Bartkowicz told the court he planned to plead guilty, though the plea change won't be final until the hearing.
Bartkowicz faces federal marijuana cultivation charges after he showed off his marijuana growing business to a TV reporter in February. Soon after Denver's KUSA-TV promoted the story in February, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided Bartkowicz's home and seized more than 200 plants.
Bartkowicz has changed his plea before. He first changed his plea to not guilty in April and asked the judge to let him use Colorado's 2000 constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana rules in his defense.
"I felt I was following state law," Bartkowicz told U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer last month.
Prosecutors asked the federal court to block Bartkowicz from using Colorado's medical marijuana law in his defense. The judge agreed, rejecting Bartkowicz's attempt to set up a federal-state showdown on medical marijuana rules.
Brimmer chided Bartkowicz for believing that recent memos by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and another Justice official gave him permission to grow large amounts of pot in his basement without fearing federal prosecution.
"Anyone reading (the memos) would quite clearly understand that cultivating marijuana is a violation of federal law," Brimmer said.
Bartkowicz faces a possible life sentence for cultivating marijuana.
Another Colorado pot grower was sentenced Wednesday on federal drug charges. Rodney L. Jobe pleaded guilty to cultivation charges for growing 374 marijuana plants inside a commercial building in Colorado Springs.
- Article from The Associated Press.