Ninth Circuit Revives Lawsuit over Religious Marijuana Use

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by oltex, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Ninth Circuit Revives Lawsuit over Religious Marijuana Use
    WSJ / Paul Plazzolo / 4,9,2012

    A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit by a Native American religious group seeking an exemption from federal law so its members can use marijuana without fear of prosecution.

    In 2009, federal law enforcement officers in Hawaii seized from FedEx one pound of marijuana — worth about $7,000 — that was addressed to a member of the Oklevueha Native American Church. Police later destroyed it. Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney, the intended recipient, sued the heads of the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, seeking to bar the government from enforcing a federal anti-drug law against the church. Mooney, the founder of the 250-member church, argued that his flock’s marijuana use is protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    A lower court threw out the lawsuit, saying Mooney hadn’t shown the church was ever in real danger of prosecution by authorities for religious marijuana use. No one was charged in connection with the marijuana seizure, and a Justice Department lawyer said in court hearings that no investigation was pending.

    The Ninth Circuit, its ruling Monday, said prosecution wasn’t a prerequisite for the lawsuit.
    “The seizure of Plaintiffs’ marijuana that has already occurred creates a justiciable case and controversy about plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory entitlement to use marijuana for religious purposes,” wrote Judge Mary Murguia for the three-judge panel. The panel sent the lawsuit down to the lower court for further proceedings, without offering an opinion on the merits of the case.

    Mooney’s group is part of the Native American Church, which has an estimated half million members in 24 states. Members of the church can use peyote for religious purposes, under federal law. The Oklevueha branch members consume marijuana as a sacrament and eucharist in their religious ceremonies and rites, according to the lawsuit.

    A Justice Department spokesman said the agency was reviewing the court’s decision.

    Is there any limit to church membership and do we have to carry a card?
  2. Good find, and better luck to Mr. Mooney.
  3. gotta love the 9th Circuit.

    So what does it take to form a church ? must be less than getting a member of congress elected. why I just might find God (hidden in my bag o'dope). I'm ready to crawl across the floor and praise his name.
  4. They have some out in California, not sure what the law for them was or how they got it. Probably not the same for Native Americans though, they pretty much tell the government what they are going to do on their own lands, so a little bit easier.

  5. well I guess they (Native Americans) deserve a little luck to go with their casinos. I am envious of this part of their experience (religious freedom as pr the 9th circuit), but surely not the rest of their history since the Europeans showed up.

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