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Despite Obama admin’s promise, DEA continues raids on medical marijuana growers

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On Thursday, a Denver news station interviewed Chris Bartkowicz about his medical-marijuana operation in the basement of his home. Bartkowicz, confident of his compliance with state laws, boasted of its size and profitability.

“I’m definitely living the dream now,” he told 9News.

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The following day, the dream was over.

Drug-enforcement agents raided his home, placed him under arrest, and carried off dozens of black bags of marijuana plants and growing lights.

The Obama administration promised in October that the federal government would respect state laws allowing the growing and selling of marijuana for medicinal use, but the Drug Enforcement Agency sent a loud message with the arrest of Bartkowicz.

“It’s still a violation of federal law,” said Jeffrey Sweetin,  the DEA special agent in charge of the Denver office. “It’s not medicine. We’re still going to continue to investigate and arrest people.”

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The United States Attorney’s office will decide Tuesday if charges will be filed against Bartkowicz.

In an interview from his jail cell, Bartkowicz said he believes the DEA is making an example of him. He would never have exposed himself if he believed his business was illegal.

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“If I knew what I was doing was illegal, I would have never made a public display of myself,” he said. “I would not have put myself in the line of fire if I was knowingly violating the law.”
Sweetin wasn’t surprised by Bartkowicz’ confidence.

“According to him and according to what he’s seen on the news, he probably believes he is legal,” Sweetin said.

And according to Sweetin, it isn’t just growers who face arrest. The dispensaries are next on the list.

“The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They’re violating federal law; they’re at risk of arrest and imprisonment,” he said to The Denver Post. “Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law.”

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Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden told federal agents in an October memo to not target people in “clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

Sweetin said the memo does nothing to change federal law, which makes marijuana illegal.

The difference between the Obama administration’s stated mission to end the “war on drugs” and the actual enforcement of that policy by DEA agents may not come as a surprise to those who have seen the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) budget for fiscal year 2011.

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“We’re not at war with people in this country,” Obama’s drug czar Gil Kerlikowske told The Wall Street Journal in May.

But according to 2011 funding “highlights” released by the ONDCP (PDF link), the Obama administration is expanding the drug war and tilting its funds heavily toward law enforcement over treatment.

During the interview in his jail cell, Bartkowicz said he realized his arrest is the center of a national debate and defended his right to publicly declare his business.

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“I’m the poster boy now,” he said. “If I am legal, why should I be in the shadows?”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Angry Minnesota farmer bashes ‘insulting’ Trump comments that ‘we’re great patriots’ during his trade war

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President Donald Trump has insulted at least one Minnesota farmer by his claim that farmers are "great patriots" who want him to continue his trade fight against China.

"This wound is self-inflicted, by our president," said Gary Wertish, who is the Minnesota Farm Bureau president. "We definitely agreed with it in the beginning. But it doesn’t appear that there’s a plan B. Some of the callous comments come, especially from the president, you know, that farmers are 'winning,' we’re 'great patriots,' that’s very insulting. That’s coming from someone who never has faced the challenges of a family farmer. I go into the bank and tell the lender I can’t make the payment because we lost our market? The banker is going to tell me you don’t have to make your payment because you’re a patriot."

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MSNBC pundit nails Trump for only attacking Black voices on Fox News

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Democratic strategist Joel Payne called out President Donald Trump Sunday for his attacks on Fox News when he was leaving New Jersey.

Before Trump landed in Marine One at Morristown, New Jersey, he tweeted an attack on Juan Williams, the only Black pundit on the Fox News show "The Five."

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1163167660764532736

Trump briefly addressed Williams, before he told members of the press that he found it appalling Fox News hired a friend of Hillary Clinton's, whose name he couldn't even remember.

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Missouri official choose Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ for swearing-in ceremony instead of ‘The Bible’

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A Missouri county official is being both celebrated and attacked after a decision to forgo The Bible for her swearing-in ceremony and opted for a copy of Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

The Friendly Atheist at Patheos captured the story, posting a photo of St. Louis City Councilmember Kelli Dunaway's children holding a copy of the book while she took her oath of office.

This was the scene last week at the STLCO government center. Democrats took back control of the council and @DunawayKelli was sworn in on a copy of “Oh the Places you’ll go” with her children❤️ so proud to be part of #TeamKelli pic.twitter.com/iJ1dxfZ1Zg

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