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Pot Religion Earns Legal Merit

Discussion in 'Religion, Beliefs and Spirituality' started by RMJL, Sep 11, 2003.

    by Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service, (Source:Calgary Herald)

    Two pot-smoking, nudist reverends - who call marijuana the "tree of life" - have a genuine legal argument based on freedom of religion that they should be allowed to toke, says a federal judge.

    Justice Frederick Gibson refused the federal government's request to throw the novel case out of court, instead allowing it to go to trial.

    Brothers Michael Baldasaro and Walter Tucker, the bishop and abbot of the Church of the Universe in Hamilton, Ont., say they feel closer to God when they smoke "the holy plant."

    "Finally, finally, our claim has been recognized," said Tucker, who inhales the weed daily as he says his morning prayers.

    Gibson, in a ruling released last week, concluded that there may be "potential room for relief" for the reverends to be cleared of possession charges, but he drew the line at them being able to traffic.

    "I am satisfied that there is evidence before the court that the plaintiffs sincerely believe that marijuana, or as they prefer, "the tree of life," is a sacrament to them and in their church," wrote Gibson.

    "It facilitates their communication with God, their peacefulness and their openness to God and to other persons."

    But the judge said it is "contrary to the public interest" to allow the reverends to "disseminate marijuana for donation or reward to support their own religious beliefs and practices and those of adherents to their church."

    The Federal Court has not set a date to hear the case.

    Baldasaro and Tucker have been arrested many times over the years, including once three years ago for mailing samples of their pot to then health minister Allan Rock, who was looking for someone to grow the government weed to be used for medicinal purposes.

    Baldasaro was also a failed candidate for the Marijuana Party in the last federal election, losing to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps.

    MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens

    Pubdate: Mon, 08 Sep 2003
    Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
    Copyright: 2003 Calgary Herald
    Contact: letters@theherald.canwest.com
    Website: http://www.canada.com/calgary/calgaryherald/
    Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/66
    Author: Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service
    Cited: Church of the Universe http://www.iamm.com/
    Case: Tucker v. The Queen http://www.canlii.org/ca/cas/fc/2003/2003fc1008.html
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/pot.htm (Cannabis)
    Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/spirit.htm (Spiritual or Sacramental)

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