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Christie can use religion as defense in marijuana case

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:38 p.m. HST, Aug 13, 2013

HILO » A Big Island cannabis minister can use religion as a defense in part of his federal marijuana distribution case, a U.S. District Court judge in Honolulu ruled.

Roger Christie has been held without bail for nearly three years while he awaits trial on charges of conspiring to manufacture and distribute marijuana.

U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled that Christie and his wife may rely upon their religious beliefs to counter the element of "intent to distribute" in the charges, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara filed a motion for the judge to reconsider or clarify the decision. But the judge denied his motion last week, calling it "premature."

Kobayashi on Aug. 27 is scheduled to rule on whether the Christies may present a defense based on federal law that acknowledges the use of hallucinogens as sacraments in certain Native American religions.

"I believe this to be great news, and the ruling is a lot better than I thought it would be," Christie wrote in an email.

He filed a sealed notice last month that he intends to mount an entrapment defense claiming that one or more government officials misled him to believe the conduct he's charged with was legal. He said that in 2000, he applied for and received a state license to perform weddings. He said he specified that he was a "cannabis sacrament" minister.

In a motion, Kawahara questioned whether Christie was told his manufacturing and distribution activities were permissible.

A hearing on Christie's entrapment motion is scheduled for Sept. 24.

Christie's downtown Hilo ministry and Wainaku apartment were raided by federal and local authorities in 2010. According to court documents, authorities confiscated about 845 grams of processed marijuana and more than $21,000 in cash.

Christie, his wife and 12 others were arrested by federal agents. Seven co-defendants have made plea deals with prosecutors to cooperate with authorities.

His trial is scheduled for Oct. 8.

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kainalu wrote:
Federal political persecution at it's worst. This on the heels of the USDOJ calling for a reduced focus on drug-related crimes, parlaying that into a more focused effort on more serious crimes. This prosecution of Roger Christie is a WASTE of tax-payer dollars.
on August 13,2013 | 10:58AM
Wazdat wrote:
WHY is this guy in jail for POT ? We have messed up priorities I mean come on its POT.
on August 13,2013 | 04:44PM
jusjoking wrote:
It seems obvious in hind sight. The prosecution is all an attempt to cover one manini agency's blunder in issuance of a license to perform weddings to the wrong guy. Tax dollars in action. Lord help taxpayers.
on August 13,2013 | 05:09PM
libertylover wrote:
on August 14,2013 | 06:17AM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
Give him back his pot, and a broom, and let him fly back to the mainland on his own.
on August 14,2013 | 06:33AM
mayihavesumor wrote:
Three years held in prison without bail? He didn't murder or assault anyone? Madness
on August 14,2013 | 07:32AM
mcc wrote:
Murderers don't go to jail in Hawaii. Look at Jimmy Pflueger!
on August 14,2013 | 07:39AM
Anonymous wrote:
Murderers don't go to jail in Hawaii. Look at Jimmy Pflueger!
on August 14,2013 | 07:39AM
Malani wrote:
A smart Judge will question how will marijuana help him with "his" religion? A smart Judge will question who is the head of "his" religion and ask to see their statement of faith and constitution of "his" religion and is "his" religion registered with the State. Anyone can start a religion and use their own agenda to promote it and will have followers if they agree with the agenda. When I read the Word of God He tells us to be aware of false teachers and to abstain from all apperance of evil.
on August 14,2013 | 07:58AM
Maili2 wrote:
Haha, yeah right, i'm just sellin this for my religious ceremonies. That's a lot of pot and a lot of money he's making to be just using little bits here and there for his ceremonies. i smell something funny!
on August 14,2013 | 08:06AM
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