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Medical marijuana: Does U.S. Attorney John Walsh's letter signal end of federal MMJ truce?

HB 1043, a bill sponsored by Representative Tom Massey and Senator Pat Steadman to clean up last year's medical marijuana regulations, seemed to be quietly moving toward passage -- but no more. A letter from U.S. Attorney John Walsh attacking aspects of the legislation call into question whether the federal government will continue its hands-off policy in regard to MMJ businesses following local law in states that have legalized them.

A 2009 memo from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden directed U.S. Attorneys not to target medical marijuana businesses in areas where they're legal, as long as they're following state law -- guidance that was blasted at the time by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, an outspoken MMJ opponent.

But in 2010, Highlands Ranch medical marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz was arrested and charged federally -- and after a judge ruled he couldn't use Colorado MMJ rules as a defense, he was sentenced to five years in prison.