Roger asked me to respond to the recent high times article in our defense. You can see my response bellow. Beneath it you will find Rogers reaction to my response. Please pass along to any and all who you think can benefit from this. Especially to Matthew Winter and the Green 14 attorneys.. Enjoy, and God Bless!
I went to hightimes to copy my post for you and it seems they removed the first half of it. It was there for at least a couple of days, but is no longer to be seen there. I’ll contact them as to why it disappeared. Luckily I had a copy saved. Here it is.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Rev. Nathan Lester of THC Ministry Ohio. Address me as you will, most call me Nate.
Allen, Thank you for taking the time to write an article about Rev. Roger Christie. If you would, please help defend him. This is exactly the kind of case that NORML needs to be involved with. To quote the first line of your fourth paragraph; “Should there be a religious exemption to cannabis-prohibition laws? Absolutely!” I thank you for acknowledging that.
We all should be able to agree that cannabis use by adults should not be a crime. We must stand by one another, regardless as to if it is Spiritual, Medicinal, or Recreational. One for all, all for one.
Since this article only addresses Religious use, that is where I will try to keep my focus. I feel that Religious users of cannabis deserve at least the same respect given to the Catholic Church, Jews, and Christians during the times of alcohol prohibition. Monks here in the United States made and sold sacramental wines to other Catholic Parishes and other religious organizations.
During Prohibition there were exemptions for sacramental wine and other religious uses of alcohol. The Eighteenth Amendment, which took effect in 1920, doesn’t say anything about those exemptions. It just says that the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the United States is banned. It was federal legislation that exempted religious uses from the laws. When law and religion people talk about Prohibition and exemptions for sacramental wine, they usually say “of course” there were exemptions for sacramental wines. Even Justice David Souter, one of the strictest separationists between church and state to sit on the Supreme Court, wrote that [w]ithout an exemption for sacramental wine, Prohibition may fail the test of religion neutrality and therefore violate free exercise (Leslie Griffin, Constitutional Law Professor, University of Houston Law Center)
Chapter 12 of Daniel Okrent’s interesting book, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Chapter after chapter left the reader feeling sorry for all the people who lost their beer and wine and hard liquor, the vintners in California who tore up their grapes, and maybe even some of the saloon owners. Then I read about Georges Latour, a Catholic Frenchman who moved to California to produced wine in the Napa Valley. Latour was fortunate enough to corner the Catholic sacramental wine market. Okrent writes that Latour chose to “look the other way” whenever his wine was diverted from its legal uses. “When a priest took receipt of an order for, say, 120 gallons of Beaulieu (a not uncommon amount), he suddenly had an inventory of 46,000 communion sips, more or less–or perhaps, 10,000 communion sips, with nearly a hundred gallons set aside for members of the congregation. Sometimes the wine didn’t even leave the rectory. In 1932, six cases of Beaulieu’s best were shipped to Chicago expressly for the use of Cardinal George Mundelein.”
Catholics were not the only ones to benefit, because Latour also produced kosher wine. Catholicism has a very official hierarchy, and the bishops had to approve purchases for the priests. In Judaism, however, any rabbi could show a list of congregants and get alcohol for them.
How would the public react if News spread that Catholic Priests, Rabbis, Ministers, and Pastors were arrested and held without bail for giving communion during alcohol prohibition? The people would be outraged. As we all should be now.
I would like to add that before the modern hospital system, the sick went to the church for medicine to aid in physical healing.
NORML is no stranger to cases like this. Ohio NORML helped me to obtain a License from the State to preform weddings as a minister for the Hawaii Cannabis(THC) Ministry. Which can be verified at the Ohio Secretary of States website. http://www2.sos.state.oh.us/pls/minister/f?p=241:1:1913394995268923::NO:RP:P1_REQ:S
Here is a shorted version of how NORML helped me. (thank you NORML) Also, Roger was a huge help to me in this time.(much love to you brother)
I applied for a license to solemnize marriages with a letter of good standing from Roger. The State denied me in writing. I wanted to challenge the State, but couldn’t afford an attorney. I contacted several lawyers from the NORML list of legal advisers, to no avail. Until one day I received a call from Cher Neufer, founder of the Ohio chapter of NORML and current treasurer. She was extremely interested in my case. She was not to familiar with the religious use, but seen how my religious rights were being denied/violated. She informed me that an attorney she worked with was interested and that he would be contacting me soon.
Moments after Cher and I got off the phone I received a call from Geoff Korff, a NORML attorney. After discussing all the details, he agreed that there was a case. He admitted that nothing like this has ever been done before, and was curious to see how it would play out in court. He didn’t doubt my sincerity, and agreed to represent me “pro bono” as long as I could cover filing fees.
There is no official form to file for a grievance of this kind, so we decided to draft a letter stating the claims against the State. One was sent to the Secretary of State, the License Administrator, and the Attorney General. If they did not respond within seven days, we were going to take more aggressive action by filing a suit in Federal Court against them using Title 18 USC section 241 and 242.
The Stated decided to issue my license, instead of going to court. I believe that once they knew I was serious, they didn’t want to risk setting a precedent in Federal Court.
Also, there was a recent Utah Court decision for a NAC member concerning a pipe with cannabis resin. The NAC member claimed it was religious and that cannabis is a sacrament. The judge dismissed the charges.
State of Utah vs. Jeff Gardner, CASE NUMBER 095002782
All the best to all of you and yours,
With much love and respect,
- Holy Smokes: http://hightimes.com/legal/ht_admin/6814
- NORML to Religious Pot Users: No Prohibition Good for All
- Chris Bennett: NORML Throws Religious Cannabis Users to the Lions
- Imprisoned Religious Cannabis Minister Roger Christie Responds To NORML
- Paul Standford: NORML Waste: Kicks Roger Christie While Down