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Colo. man gets five years for basement pot     (Health News)
01/28/2011 03:34 P (EST)
DENVER, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A Colorado man who conducted a medical-marijuana-growing operation from the basement of his home has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Christopher Bartkowicz of Highlands Ranch reached a plea agreement in October for a five year term on federal drug charges, an agreement accepted by federal U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer who passed sentence, The Denver Post reported Friday.

Bartkowicz will be the first member of Colorado's medical-marijuana community to serve prison time for actions he says were legal under Colorado law.

Federal authorities said they arrested Bartkowicz because they believe he was cultivating more plants than Colorado law allowed, had prior state-level drug convictions and because his operation was within two blocks of a school.

Because all marijuana cultivation is illegal under federal law, Bartkowicz was unable to use a medical marijuana defense in the federal court case.

Given his prior convictions, he could have faced a life sentence under the initial charges against him, the Post said.