Posted: January 31st, 2011 by Militant Libertarian
Chris Bartkowicz, whose saga of federal prosecution we’ve followed here on CannaCentral, was sentenced to five years in federal prison today by Judge Philip Brimmer of the Federal District Court in Denver. The sentencing is part of a plea bargain Bartkowicz made with prosecutors when the judge refused to allow him to use Colorado’s state medical marijuana law in his defense.
The prosecutor, pretending to be helpful and only on the lookout for Bartkowicz’ well being, said to the press “Five years is a long time. It’s going to allow him to get treatment and it’s going to give him time to reflect on what brought him here today.”
As if Bartkowicz has a “problem” that needs to be “treated.” He grew marijuana for medicinal use and was a registered caregiver and supplier for dispensaries in Colorado. Not that the federal government gives a crap about the laws of the State of Colorado. We’ll consider the claims the feds use to gain jurisdiction in these cases in a moment.
So here you have Bartkowicz who’s going to be in prison for five years. I can’t pretend to be Chris or know what he’s going through, but I can guess as what I’d be thinking about for that five years. I’d be thinking about how I got f@@@@d by a bunch of federal tax feeders. I’d be considering how a federal judge refused to allow me to defend myself in court and colluded (it appears) with a prosecutor who’s only interest was getting a conviction and getting it well-publicized so the federal apparatus could keep their fear mongering over the people of Colorado. People who decided for themselves to partially legalize a harmless plant.
I’d be thinking about how a president got elected and had promised to take the heat off of medical marijuana and then conveniently forgot about that promise when he entered office (as politicians are wont to do – campaign promises mean nothing once you’re elected). I’d be thinking about how everything I’d worked for – my home, my business, everything – is now gone and will not be returned.
That’s what I’d be thinking about.
Now here’s what you, as a taxpayer that foots the bill for all of this stuff should be thinking about. As a sovereign being living in the United States of America (land of the free?), you should be thinking about the fact that this man is being sent to prison for growing a plant that has never been proven to have caused a single fatality from overdose. Unlike perfectly legal drugs like alcohol, Prozac, aspirin, and so forth. This man is being put behind bars as a “dangerous criminal” for growing a plant that, if the seeds were randomly scattered in soil at nearly any spot on the globe, would grow freely – and does in many places. A plant that has not only been scientifically proven to have safe medicinal uses, but that 15 states of our 50 have decided to make legal for medicinal use. Does the government have any right to deny that use, or any other use that harms no one?
Now, taxpayer, think about this: the average cost of incarceration is $24,000 per year per inmate. The average public school student costs less than $8,000 annually. Stew on that for a minute. We spend about seven three times more per person to lock them up than we do to educate them. That should spell out some national priorities for you. No inmate left behind?
Now let’s consider how the feds justify their arrest and conviction of people like Bartkowicz. The claim that they have jurisdiction over marijuana through the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. Do they?
Bartkowicz was growing marijuana in Colorado for medicinal use by Colorado residents who are registered medical marijuana patients in the State of Colorado. Do you see any state other than Colorado listed there? Was he growing cannabis in his Colorado home for sale to California, Montana, or New Jersey patients? Nope, just Colorado patients. So where’s the “interstate” in this commerce?
I don’t know about you, but all I see here are a lot of federal agents feeding at the trough in order to arrest people so that federal prosecutors and judges, feeding at the same trough, can incarcerate them so that the corporations who contract prisons to the government can also get their head in that trough.
That trough is our money, folks. The money we work for so that these parasites can take it from us. Do the DEA agents, federal judges, federal prosecutors, federal prison owners, federal prison guards, and all of the lobbyists that work with and around these people do anything productive? Or do they just feed like leeches off of the rest of us who are productive members of society – people like Chris Bartkowicz, who only wanted to run a business and was proud to show it to people when asked. A business that was, as far as we can know, perfectly legal under Colorado law.
So a man’s life is being ruined (5 years in prison plus 8 years on parole) and another federal judge and prosecutor get to claim a victory while their buddies who own the prison he’ll be housed in will reap somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 of our tax dollars.
Justice is served? I think not.
[source Denver Post]