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Marijuana advocate could spend another 6 months in prison

Christie will appeal pretrial rulings despite his guilty plea

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 03:35 p.m. HST, Sep 26, 2013

Big Island cannabis advocate Roger Christie will spend about another six months behind bars after pleading guilty in his marijuana trafficking case, according to his lawyer.

But Christie will continue his quest to become the first legal marijuana ministry by appealing to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals pretrial rulings denying his bid to dismiss the charges, attorney Thomas Otake said today in an email statement.

Christie will plead guilty Friday as part of a conditional plea agreement, which means he will be able to appeal the pretrial rulings, according to the lawyer.

Christie will likely receive a five-year sentence, but because he has been in custody since his arrest in July 2010 and because of the way federal authorities calculate sentences, he will be released in about six months, Otake said.

Christie, 64, had been scheduled to go to trial Oct. 8 on multiple marijuana and tax charges involving his The Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry in Hilo.

Otake said several pretrial rulings affected Christie's right to a "full and fair trial."  Instead of going to trial, Christie decided that it was best to enter into the agreement and appeal the pretrial rulings, the lawyer said.

"Reverend Christie is as motivated as ever to continue this fight, and is energized by the prospects of taking the fight to the next level," Otake said.

Christie admits that he distributed cannabis for religious purposes, but will assert in his appeal that his conduct was legal, Otake said.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi's pretrial rulings included the rejection of Christie's contention that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act prohibits his prosecution.

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jomama wrote:
I don't smoke weed but this whole thing is ridiculous. Govt doesn't have anything better to do?
on September 26,2013 | 06:51PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Shame on Judge Kobayashi for keeping this man in jail for 3 years under the pretext that he represents a danger to the community. So he grew some weed and gave it to his church group, big deal ... how does that make you a danger to society? An HPD officer gets caught doing exactly the same thing on a similar scale and gets 7 months. He also remained free while awaiting trial. Christie gets 5 years and has to wait 3 years for his trial? The only difference in the crime being Christie's position that he should not be prosecuted due to constitutional religious protections. It appears the Feds don't like his argument and have sought to "teach him a lesson" with the help of Judge Kobayashi. The federal prosecutors and judge should all be terminated for unequal treatment in this case.
on September 26,2013 | 07:00PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
At least one other commenter has some guts
on September 27,2013 | 12:14AM
Bdpapa wrote:
He misrepresented the medical marijuana issue and deserves what he got.
on September 26,2013 | 07:28PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Agreed. We are a Country of Laws and Mr. (Rev?) Christie broke the law and attempted to beat the law. He deserves the his time.
on September 26,2013 | 09:05PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
Should we name a drone after him?
on September 27,2013 | 12:13AM
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