BY CATHY BUSSEWITZ
HONOLULU (AP) — A federal court has ruled that a church for Native Americans in Hawaii should not be excused from federal marijuana laws despite the group's claim that ingesting cannabis is part of their sacred sacrament.
The Native American Church of Hawaii had asked for relief from federal marijuana laws under the U.S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act, saying they used cannabis during sweat lodge ceremonies to help people connect with their creator.
A district court ruled against the claim, saying the church didn't produce enough admissible evidence about its religion other than a strong belief in the benefits of marijuana. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld the district court's decision, saying a prohibition of cannabis doesn't impose a substantial burden on their right to exercise their religion.
"It's really disappointing," said Michael Rex 'Raging Bear' Mooney, who founded the church. "Cannabis is a prayer smoke, so it's a sacrament … through the effects of the medicine, it also helps us become closer to our creator. It puts us in a place, a state of mind, where we can actually feel the presence and an actual relationship with our creator."
The issue stems from an incident in 2009 when the church, then called Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, filed a complaint against federal officials, saying a member of the church had his cannabis seized.
But the church in its practice can also use peyote, a hallucinogenic drug used in Native American rituals. Federal law allows tribal Indians and members of the Native American Church to use peyote in religious ceremonies.
The court in its ruling said the church made no claim that peyote is unavailable or that cannabis serves a unique religious function, so prohibiting cannabis doesn't force Mooney or the church to choose between obedience to their religion or criminal sanction.
The church, which has at least 250 members, plans to appeal the court's decision, said Mooney's lawyer, Michael Glenn.
"Man's relationship with the divine can't be dictated by any other person or government entity," Glenn said.
(Photo Courtesy of sfreporter.com)
New Mexico to Reinstate Residency Requirement for Medical Marijuana Cards
Oklahoma Officials to Enforce Mandated Testing of Medical Cannabis Products
High Times Greats: Yoko Ono, Dragon Lady or Lady Madonna?
Higher Profile: Emily Paxhia, Co-Founder/Managing Director, Poseidon Asset Management
Tennessee Senator Files Bill to Allow Sale and Taxation of Marijuana
What We Know So Far About The Newly Discovered Cannabinoids THCP And CBDP
Not All Terpenes Are Made Equal: Knowing the Difference
Cherokee Nation Will No Longer Demand THC Abstinence From Employees
- Legalization5 days ago
Does Cannabis Have a Shot at Being Federally Legalized?
- News4 days ago
Mayor of Amsterdam Pushing to Severely Restrict Cannabis Tourism
- Politics6 days ago
A Brief Global History of the War on Cannabis
- Guides6 days ago
The High Times Valentine’s Day Gift Guide For Lit Lovers
- News6 days ago
Illinois Officials to Allow Medical Marijuana Businesses to Extend Hours
- Activism4 days ago
High Times Greats: Interview With John Trudell
- News5 days ago
Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New Mexico Likely Dead in Committee
- News5 days ago
LA County Prosecutors Teams Up With Tech Group to Clear 66,000 Cannabis Convictions