Ct: Native American church not excused from cannabis laws

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 11:35 AM

The Native American Church of HI had asked for relief from federal marijuana laws below the U. S.

A federal Ct is ruling that a church for Native Americans in Hawaii shouldn't be excused from federal marijuana laws despite the group'south claim that ingesting cannabis is portion of their sacred sacrament.

The Native American Church of HI had asked for relief from federal marijuana laws below the U. S. Religious Freedom Restoration Act, saying they used cannabis during sweat lodge ceremonies to assistance people connect with their creator.

A district Ct ruled against the claim, saying the church didn't produce sufficient admissible proof about its religion other than a powerful trust in the benefits of marijuana. The ninth U. S. Circuit Ct of Appeals Wednesday upheld the district court'south decision, saying a prohibition of cannabis doesn't impose a substantial burden on their right to exercise their religion.

"It'south really disappointing," said Michael Rex 'Raging Bear' Mooney, who founded the church. "Cannabis is a prayer smoke, so it'south 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 perceive the presence and an real relationship with our creator."

The issue stems from an incident in two thousand-ninth 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 utilize peyote, a hallucinogenic drug used in Native American rituals. Federal law allows tribal Indians and members of the Native American Church to utilize peyote in religious ceremonies.

The Ct in its ruling said the church made number claim that peyote is unavailable or that cannabis serves a unique religious function, so prohibiting cannabis doesn't force Mooney or the church to select between obedience to their religion or criminal sanction.

The church, which has at least two hundred fifty members, plans to appeal the court'south decision, said Mooney'south lawyer, Michael Glenn.

"Man'south relationship with the divine can't be dictated by any other person or government entity," Glenn said.

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