POSTED: 4:10 p.m. HST, Mar 29, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 5:43 p.m. HST, Mar 29, 2013
U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi refused to dismiss felony marijuana charges today against Big Island marijuana advocate Roger Christie.
The ruling clears the way for a trial in July against the 63-year-old man who has already spent more than 2 1/2 years in federal custody.
Kobayashi issued an order saying the dismissal request is denied. She said she will file a more detailed order later.
Christie’s lawyer Thomas Otake argued that Christie’s constitutional rights are violated by the federal government categorizing marijuana as the most restricted drug.
But Kobayashi declined to be the first judge in the country to strike down marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule I drug, a category that includes heroin.
Christie was arrested in July 2010 on three counts of conspiracy and related marijuana charges of growing and possessing 284 marijuana plants.
Each charge carries a prison term of five to 40 years.
Christie promoted the religious use of marijuana as a sacrament at his Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry in Hilo.
He repeatedly sought his release pending his trial, but federal judges here and the U. S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down his requests, ruling that he poses a danger to the community.
Christie has become an icon among marijuana supporters and others who say he is unfairly prosecuted and detained because of his views.
Two resolutions calling for his release is pending in the state Senate.