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God, Jesus And Cannabis: A Holy Trinity? The First Amendment On Trial


religion god cannabis marijuanaThen God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sixty-four-year old Roger Christie, founder of the Hawai’i Cannabis THC Ministry, has outrageously been held in prison for three years while he is awaiting trial.  Mr. Christie was arrested with 13 others, known as the Green 14, but he is the only one of the 14 that has been held without bail.  Such treatment is disgraceful and better suited for a mass murderer than someone cultivating and providing cannabis.  Even if the government is able to fully make its case, that Mr. Christie’s ministry was really just a front to sell cannabis, his three-year imprisonment pending his trial amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in my opinion.  Soon, Mr. Christie will have his day in court and his case may just be a landmark First Amendment trial regarding freedom of religion.

From The New York Times:

On July 29, Mr. Christie’s lawyer will argue in Hawaii federal court that his client should be allowed to present a religious-freedom defense at the eventual criminal trial. He will base his argument on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993, which requires the government to show a “compelling interest” whenever it “substantially burdens” a religious practice. In 2006, the Supreme Court relied on the act to permit a New Mexico church to use the hallucinogen hoasca, or ayahuasca, for sacramental purposes.


“The difference is that peyote and hoasca have little or no recreational market, and that is not likely to change because they make you sick before they make you high,” Douglas Laycock, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Virginia, wrote in an e-mail in explaining why a court would be unlikely to approve of the church’s practice. “Marijuana has a huge recreational market. Diversion from religious to recreational uses, and false claims of religious use, would be major problems.”

Mr. Christie is hoping that now, as many state marijuana laws are liberalized, federal courts may allow him to argue for the sacramental needs of his ministry, where until his arrest he worked full time. First, he must convince a federal judge that his religion — or one of his religions — is not just a form of personal spirituality concocted to get stoned legally.

In my opinion, one’s personal religious use of cannabis should outweigh the government’s supposed interest to keep cannabis out of the recreational market.  Cannabis is certainly less psychoactive than peyote and ayahuasca and cannot cause a lethal overdose.  Further, cannabis is readily available in states with harsh cannabis laws on the books, let alone in the 18 states (and our nation’s capitol) where cannabis is available medically or the two states  that have already legalized adult use.  And more states are poised to approve medical laws and full legalization in the near future.

While the stereotypes of cannabis users make it easy to claim that religious use of cannabis is just a smokescreen (sorry, pun intended), it seems to me that it only makes sense that cannabis would be thought of as a sacred plant throughout human history.  The cannabis plant has so many uses and helps so many ailments, early humans very likely believed that a higher power brought this plant to them.

Of course, religious use or not, it is criminal to hold a nonviolent person charged with an nonviolent crime in prison while rapists and murderers are provided bail.  Hopefully, Mr. Christie’s ordeal will soon be over and he will be free to use cannabis as he sees fit.  Even better, his case may provide an opportunity for those with a legitimate religious use, be it a THC Ministry or Rastafarians, to avoid criminal penalties for using a nontoxic plant that helps them feel closer to their god, creator or higher power.  Regardless of how this case goes, cannabis prohibition is crumbling and we will soon look back at Mr. Christie’s treatment, and the treatment of everyone locked in cages for cannabis, as a barbaric era that our nation should be ashamed of.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. Did I say religion is bullshit?. And I didn’t say it did overpower religion? No. I think all people have a right to believe what they want. Geez atheist are not bad people. Its only people like you that makes it feel that way. Yes the population in the us proves that there are more religious people then non believers. We get fucking hated and criticized because we don’t believe. What my statement was trying to imply is that people can practice religion in peace with people using cannabis or not.

  2. Fortunately our country was founded on the concept that your atheist bullshit doesn’t over rule religious bullshit.

  3. Reverend Ryan on

    The good Reverend Chris Bennett, among others, provides well researched, scholarly evidence of the spiritual use of cannabis among the world’s religions and cultures across time. Given the medical evidence of eliminating epilepsy, curing cancer and preventing Alzheimer’s… even an atheist can find healing. As the Italian Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Rastafarians, this clearly shows that spiritual beliefs and practices are supreme over racist, prohibitionist laws.

  4. @David Dunn…You are entirely correct with your statement. Even though this country, was formed, out of religion, as part of our principals, the Federal Government, has trampled on our rights, from “Our Founding Fathers,” over the years and our Federal Government has, once again, over stepped their bounds on our “Freedoms.”

    Republicans are finding new ways to lesson the amount of our freedoms, every passing year, because their base, is in turmoil.

    Now @Matao, being an ATHEIST. It is his right to practice, his beliefs in any way he sees fit and it is no wonder why he uses atheist and bullshit in the same sentence. However, if Matao can practice his beliefs, then Christians or anyone else are allowed to practice, whatever their religions are, in their own ways also, as they choose fit and our Federal Government should not intervene. The only time our government should intervene, would be in religions that practice, “Human Sacrifices.”

  5. Why not allow cannabis to be used in religious services? One of the beneficial effects of cannabis is inspiration.

    Too, it doesn’t have to be smoked. There are all kinds of food and liquid ways of obtaining the beneficial effects of cannabis without smoking.

    Congress has no problem of allowing alcohol to be used in religious services. In Christian churches it’s called Communion. What’s the difference? Some teetotalers substitute grape juice as a Communion wine without any scriptural basis.

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