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Constitutional rights are being violated yet again by vigilante police.

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by Digit, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. Church Leader Defends Marijuana Use
    Posted by CN Staff on June 09, 2003 at 07:21:25 PT
    By Jamie Swift, Journal Reporter
    Source: King County Journal

    Auburn -- There's a church here that provides marijuana to members of its congregation for physical and spiritual healing. At least there was until police raided it a little more than a week ago.
    More than 200 plants were confiscated, along with all the church's lamps and other equipment for growing marijuana. The Reverend Lee Phillips is not pleased. He said the government has no right to ``steal from the church'' and ``defile our temple.''

    The church is a one-story house at 2711 N St. S.E., where Phillips lives with his wife of two years, Lori Phillips.

    Lori, 45, has a doctor's note to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, which has been legal in Washington since 1998. Lee is ``mandated'' by the Religion of Jesus Church to grow, smoke and share cannabis with people in need of physical or spiritual healing, he said.

    Phillips, 52, has helped heal ``hundreds'' of people at his home-based church the past four years, he said. Some are hurting physically, others emotionally and spiritually.

    ``It takes some of the pain away,'' Phillips said. ``God doesn't want any of us to hurt.''

    Phillips says the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team had no right to raid his south Auburn home, confiscate his plants and marijuana-growing equipment and take his wife to jail for the night.

    By doing so, Phillips said, police have forced Lori to suffer and infringed on the couple's Constitutional right to freedom of religion.

    ``This house is a church,'' Phillips said last week, sitting in the one-car garage of his south Auburn rambler. ``In this building we heal, we counsel, we hold church. People come to us for what we offer them.

    ``I have no choice as a reverend of this church but to use cannabis and share it with those who need it.''

    According to the Religion of Jesus Christ bylaws, which can be found on the Internet: ``Because Cannabis brings us closer to God and our Heavenly Father closer to us, it helps us to achieve greater growth of our soul. Cannabis is and always will be a spiritual aid -- this fact is proven over and over again throughout history.''

    ``The government can't tell you how to practice your religion unless they have a compelling state interest,'' Phillips said. ``I don't see how we're bothering anybody.

    ``The use of the sacramental medicine is done only in the confines of the church -- never in public view.''

    The couple's church is registered with the state as a nonprofit organization called The Center for Healing and Spiritual Renewal.

    Detective. Jim Miller, who led the VNET investigation of the Phillips couple, said his team was not aware when they raided the home that Lori Phillips had a doctor's note to use marijuana to ease symptoms of her condition, Hepatitis C.

    Miller also didn't know Lee Phillips is registered in Hawaii as an ordained cannabis sacrament minister and is a reverend in the Religion of Jesus Church, founded in Hawaii more than 40 years ago.

    Miller knows now, but he still thinks VNET was right in busting the couple for producing such large quantities of pot.

    ``She may have permission from a doctor,'' Miller said, ``but she doesn't have permission to have over 200 plants.''

    And as for the issue of Lee Phillips' religious duty to share what is called the ``Holy herb'' in his faith, that will likely be settled in the courts. Maybe even the U.S. Supreme Court.

    First, the couple must be charged with a crime. Miller said the investigation could take up to three more months. Criminal charges could include possession and distribution of narcotics, plus potential money laundering charges.

    Phillips, whose employment consists of being leader of his church, said the many people who seek healing at his church are not asked to pay for their marijuana.

    He declined to reveal how much money his church receives in donations from its members but he did say it's enough to provide for his family and to assist church members with paying their bills or buying food.

    Miller said what the couple is doing is ``the same as selling dope. Having 200 plants is tantamount to marijuana for sale.'' The street value of those plants is between $200,000 and $400,000.

    The marijuana is not used to make money, the Phillipses insist. Lee Phillips said he was insulted that the narcotics officers broke down his front door and tore apart his church ``like it's some kind of crack house.''

    Lori Phillips said the officers could have approached her or her husband in a less aggressive way and either would have willingly invited them inside the house and showed them Lori's doctor's note to use marijuana for Hepatitis C, a chronic disease that slowly damages the liver, often causing liver cancer.

    ``My joints ache all the time,'' she said.

    Lori was the only one home during the raid. She was handcuffed and taken to the Kent City Jail, where she stayed overnight. Lee turned himself in.

    This wasn't Lee Phillips' first marijuana arrest. Most recently, he was arrested in Auburn during a traffic stop for possession. The charge was dropped, he said, after he explained that the marijuana was medication for his wife.

    The couple is represented by Seattle attorney Jeff Steinborn, who has a Web site at -- http://www.potbust.com

    ``These are not just druggies growing pot and selling it to children,'' said Steinborn, adding that he sees validity in the couple's religion.

    ``In many respects, I feel the same way,'' he said. ``Throughout religion, mystical experiences have been altered states of consciousness brought on by the use of some substance.

    ``These folks aren't just nutcases.''

    Said Phillips: ``I don't want the public to this we're some crack house on the corner. Inside this house, we're doing some good work.

    ``I'm not just a guy who's into weed and hiding behind religion.''

    Source: King County Journal (WA)
    Author: Jamie Swift, Journal Reporter
    Published: June 09, 2003
    Copyright: 2003 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.
    Website: http://www.kingcountyjournal.com/
    Contact: letterstoeditor@kingcountyjournal.com

    Related Articles & Web Site:

    Religion of Jesus Church
    http://www.hialoha.com/konagold/church/

    Jesus Used Cannabis Oil, Writer Says
    http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15357.shtml

    Jesus Used Cannabis To Heal Ailments
    http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15122.shtml

    Cannabis Linked To Biblical Healing
    http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15121.shtml
     

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