The  U.S. Supreme Court upholds the  1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act on December 1st, 2004 in it's decision not to allow the Federal government to block a New Mexico church from using it's "sacrament". This case solidifies the RFRA that other groups have championed as the law that will allow them to use substances as sacraments that otherwise are illegal, example RASTAFARIANS who use Marijuana will now have legal standing.



 DECEMBER 1st, 2004

 

 U.S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS FREEDOM OF RELIGION ACT
and allow the religious use of a drug other-wise illegal

 

 HOASCA CASE

 

DEC. 1, 2004

"GOVERNMENT BLOCKS
RELIGIOUS USE"


By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer

 
WASHINGTON – (12/1/04) The Bush administration on Wednesday won a Supreme Court stay that blocks a New Mexico church from using hallucinogenic tea that the government contends is illegal and potentially dangerous.

The government has been in a long-running legal fight with the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal over hoasca tea, brewed from plants found in the Amazon River Basin.

The church won a preliminary injunction in a lower court, and The Supreme Court was asked to intervene. Justice Stephen Breyer (news - web sites), acting on behalf of the full  court, granted a temporary stay to give both sides time to file more  arguments with the court.

"Compliance with the injunction would force the United States to go into violation of an international treaty designed to prevent drug trafficking worldwide, which could have both short-and long-term foreign relations costs and could impair the policing of transnational drug trafficking involving the most dangerous controlled substances," acting Solicitor General Paul Clement wrote in a court filing.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web sites) in Denver found that the church probably has a religious-freedom right to use the tea. The Bush administration plans to appeal, but wants the church barred from using the tea in the meantime. The church's leader had sued after federal agents raided his office in Santa Fe in 1999 and seized 30 gallons of hoasca tea. The tea contains DMT, a controlled substance.

 The Bush administration already has one drug appeal at the Supreme Court. Justices heard arguments earlier this week in that case, which asks whether the federal government can prosecute patients who smoke marijuana on doctors' orders and in states that have medical marijuana laws. The case is Ashcroft v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, A-469.

 DEC. 12, 2004

  US  SUPREME COURT
'UPHOLDS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM'


A New Mexico church has gotten a Christmas gift from the Supreme Court, winning permission for its members to use hallucinogenic tea and leaving the government holding the bag.

The high court lifted a temporary stay the government had won last week. The administration contends the tea is illegal and dangerous.

The attorney for the church, which is a branch of a Brazilian denomination, told justices that the tea (hoasca) is not only safe, but is sacred to members, who feel connected to God by using it.

She says since the federal agents raided the church in 1999 and began a legal fight over the tea, church members haven't been able to receive communion, a particular loss at Christmastime.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

                      
                    
THIS US SUPREME COURT RULING HAS NOW ONCE UPHELD THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND RESTORATION ACT U.S.C. 2000bb(a)           

FOR MORE NEWS ON THIS STORY SEE: GOOGLE NEWS "HOASCA"       
 


Hallucinogenic Tea legal : "Religiously"

 




Government must return hallucinogenic tea
Nov. 16th, 2004


Denver, CO, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- A federal court in Denver ruled for a third time the government must return a cache of hallucinogenic tea to a Brazilian religious sect in New Mexico

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-5 Friday for O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, or UDV, a church that has been fighting a legal battle to have the government return 30 gallons of "ayahuasca," a hallucinogenic tea used for religious purposes that was confiscated by the U.S. Customs Service in 1999, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

"This case is unique in many respects because it involves a clash between two federal statutes, one based in the First Amendment to the Constitution and protecting an individual's free exercise of religion and the other serving the important governmental and public interests of protecting society against the importation and sale of illegal drugs," wrote 10th Circuit Judge Stephanie Seymour in one of the majority opinions.

The government must now seek the permission of the regional solicitor if it wishes to pursue an appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.





PEYOTE USE IS LEGAL: "RELIGIOUSLY"






June 23rd, 2004
Church's peyote use OK'd


High court ruling may clear founder of charges

By Angie Welling

Desert Morning News

      Members of a Utah County American Indian church, whatever their race, can continue to use peyote as part of their religious ceremonies without fear of state prosecution, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.


James Mooney, right, and Linda Mooney appear in court in 2000. The Mooneys were accused of distributing peyote during ceremonies at their church.

Dan Lund, Associated Press
      The unanimous decision applies to all 200 members of the Oklevueha Earth Walks Native American Church and may result in the complete dismissal of criminal charges against the church's founder, James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney.

      "The bona fide religious use of peyote cannot serve as the basis for prosecuting members of the Native American Church under state law," Justice Jill Parrish wrote in Tuesday's opinion.

      Mooney's attorney, Kathryn Collard, praised the ruling as a victory for religious freedom that affects all Utahns, not just members of Mooney's congregation.
    
 "For the rest of us, what it confirms is that individuals can still rely on the courts and their state and federal constitutional rights to protect them from this incredible power of the state. And that is a wonderful thing," Collard said. "I think it should make all of us who take these rights for granted think about how in every age people have to struggle to preserve these fundamental rights."

      Mooney was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but Collard said he is grateful for the Supreme Court's decision.

      "He just expressed to me what a great thing it is that the court protected the religious diversity that is the foundation of our country and our state," Collard said. "He just could not be happier. It's been a very long struggle for them."

      Mooney and his wife, Linda, were arrested in November 2000 and charged with 10 first-degree felony counts of operating a controlled substance criminal enterprise and one count of second-degree felony racketeering for allegedly distributing peyote to non-Indians.

      Collard said she will revive a motion to dismiss all charges against the Mooneys, which 4th District Court Judge Gary Stott rejected in October 2001 when he ruled that the exception does not apply to any race other than American Indians.


Now activists in other faiths are gearing up to battle the Government on Religious freedom grounds such as Ed Forchion, aka NJWEEDMAN.COM from (New Jersey)
      Though Tuesday's opinion overturns Stott's ruling, Assistant Attorney General Kris Leonard said it may still be possible for the case to go forward.

      "There are still issues that haven't been decided below that may yet allow prosecution of the case," she said.

      The court's ruling holds true only for members of a valid Native American Church, Leonard said, and there has been no investigation into the validity of Mooney's church.

      For the purposes of its decision, the Supreme Court assumed Mooney's representations, she said.

      At issue in the case was an exemption in the Federal Controlled Substance Act that allows the use of peyote in religious ceremonies. The exception was enacted by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, now known as the Drug Enforcement Administration, after peyote was classified as a controlled substance in 1970.

      The state Attorney General's Office argued on appeal that the exemption has never been incorporated into state laws controlling drug use. Additionally, the state argued, the exemption does not apply to non-Indian members of the Native American Church.

      The Supreme Court rejected each argument Tuesday, saying the state statute must be interpreted to include the exemption to avoid a conflict between state and federal law and to protect the Mooneys' constitutional rights. Additionally, the court noted, the exemption makes no mention of tribal status as a requirement for immunity from prosecution.

      "The term 'members' in the exemption clearly refers to members of the 'Native American Church' — not to members of federally recognized tribes," the opinion states. "Therefore, so long as their church is part of the 'Native American Church,' the Mooneys may not be prosecuted for using peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies."

      Mooney founded the Oklevueha Earth Walks Native American Church in 1997 in Benjamin, a rural community west of Spanish Fork. The Native American Church, which was established in 1918 in Oklahoma, operates throughout the United States and Canada. Each chapter operates autonomously and sets its own rules.





Judge Rules Peyote Use is Legal
Sep. 22, 2004
A Utah County man today celebrated his right to religious freedom. The Native American Church leader fought for his right to use peyote and the Utah Supreme Court agreed. Jed Boal Reporting

Four years ago James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney was thrust into a struggle that pitted religious freedom against US drug laws. Mooney argued his peyote ceremonies were protected by law. Utah County charged him as a drug dealer, but Mooney won.



James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney's Oklevueha Earthwalk’s Native American Church has few members today. But they held a sacred pipe ceremony in front of the federal courthouse. They smoked legal herbs to honor their attorney and the Utah Supreme Court.

Mooney is grateful that the state has given up on prosecuting his case after the high court ruled unanimously in his favor.

James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney: “This is a stand for me. This is who I am. This is what I do. So whatever they throw at me, makes no difference to me.”

Four years ago, deputies raided his church in Benjamin and seized thousands of peyote buttons. Mooney and his wife were jailed and charged as drug dealers. Mooney stood up for his religious rights, but it took a toll on his family and his church.

James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney: “Everyone has been so terrorized with the threat of arrest and imprisonment if they partake in these ceremonies.”

Native Americans consider peyote sacred medicine, and the ceremonies are protected by federal law. The Utah Supreme Court said the ceremonies are protected even if church members are not Native Americans.

Kathryn Collard, Mooney's Lawyer: “We have to fight for our constitutional rights in every age. A lot of us take those rights for granted."

Mooney says it was never a fight or a battle, it was a stand for freedom.

James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney: “We can worship as LDS Mormons worship, without the fear of somebody invading their temple and arresting their temple president. That’s what happened here.”

The US Attorney has warned Mooney he could still be charged federally and the Utah County attorney's office may approach the legislature about restrictions on peyote. Mooney and his attorney say they will continue to take a stand for his religious freedom.

 





WHY ISN'T MARIJUANA LEGAL: "RELIGIOUSLY"?



Nov. 18, 2004

Up in Smoke

<>Two legalization backers get sentenced for their Liberty Bell marijuana rallies.
<>by Cory Frolik

Edward Forchion and Patrick Duff pretty much figured John Q. Law wouldn't be happy with them for lighting a joint near the Liberty Bell—not once, but thrice.

Turns out, they were right.

Last week, U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Arnold Rapoport sentenced Duff and Forchion—aka N.J. Weedman—to a year's probation and fined them $150 for their smoke-outs. The pair is also barred from Independence Mall and will be subject to random drug testing, a prospect that leaves Forchion fearing the worst is yet to come.

"Pencil me in jail," says Forchion, who has no designs on passing any drug screening anytime soon. "When they gave me probation, what they really gave me was jail time."

Forchion and Duff had been arguing that, as Rastafarians, they were entitled to smoke marijuana as a "sacrament." Further, as they were exercising their right to religious expression, they couldn't be prohibited from smoking near the Liberty Bell since the 1993 Religious Freedom Act holds that Rastafarians can't be persecuted for using marijuana on federal property [Fine Print, "What's His Kryptonite?" Morris Bracy IV, March 25, 2004].

Forchion and Duff took those arguments to the federal courthouse at Sixth and Market streets, along with their pro-bono attorney, Michael Coard, for a hearing last Wednesday.

There, Forchion—a former truck driver turned marijuana-legalization activist who ran for a U.S. House seat in New Jersey—was asked to verify that he is in fact a Rastafarian. The defense then presented videotapes of the pair's Liberty Bell visits which depict Duff attacking the "war on drugs" through a bullhorn. After praying together, Forchion and Duff are shown sparking a joint.

The two were cleared on charges of hindering governmental functions and disturbing the peace. However, Rapoport found them both guilty of drug possession. They had to return to court last Friday for a sentencing hearing at which Forchion denounced both the American government for not understanding Rastafarians and the judge for obeying fundamentally "Christian laws."

"If we'd have paid the citation, we'd be fine," says Duff, who maintained they now face steeper sentences because they had the audacity to publicly question the government. Duff says they plan to appeal the sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. He predicts that while their case might seem small for the time being, "it's going to be huge."






11/13/2004
For marijuana proponent, testing worse than jail

By Inquirer staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian
 at 215-854-2658 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com.


Edward Forchion's unique faith-based initiative - a religious exemption from marijuana laws because the drug is a sacrament to Rastafarians - ended yesterday with harsh penance from a federal judge: random drug testing.
(Click picture see video)
Forchion - the Burlington County proponent of legal marijuana who styles himself as NJ Weedman - and acolyte Patrick A. Duff, a Philadelphia car dealer and ordained-by-mail Universalist Life Church minister, were each sentenced to a year's probation and fined $150 for lighting up near the Liberty Bell on Independence Mall.

Forchion, 40, and Duff, 28, argued that the incidents on Dec. 20, March 20 and April 17 were protected by the Constitution and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act because the smoking occurred in a Rastafarian religious service.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapoport agreed with National Park Service rangers and the prosecutor - smoking pot in the park violated Independence National Historical Park regulations and federal drug laws.

For the defendants, what was worse than losing what even Rapoport called a "unique case, to say the least, with some substantial issues," was random drug testing, the one mandatory term for all federal probationers.

To obtain a base-level reading, the judge said, both men had to say when they last used marijuana before their first urine test.

It was then about 3 p.m.

"Last night I ingested the sacrament cannabis at midnight," Duff replied.

"At 10 minutes after one today," Forchion said, "I pulled into the parking lot; I ingested the sacrament and prayed that you would not impose drug testing, which for me is a prison sentence."

Violating probation, Rapoport warned them, would result in a year in federal prison. The judge noted that earlier in the hearing, Forchion said he once had gone three years without smoking marijuana.

"If you can, on your own volition, stop using marijuana and now you don't - whatever happens to you, you do to yourself," Rapoport said. "Mr. Forchion, you're here simply because you've decided what the law is."

Forchion, Duff and pro bono attorney Michael Coard said they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, if needed, to seek the same protection Catholics got for Communion wine during Prohibition and some Native American groups got for peyote.

Rapoport, however, said the videotapes Forchion and Duff made of their three arrests at Independence Mall undercut their own defense: "On its face, it's clearly a demonstration; the fact that you prayed... doesn't make this a religious service."

In one incident, Forchion and Duff prayed for prisoners serving time for violating marijuana laws. Duff then intoned, "It's time to practice our religion," and they lit a marijuana cigarette and began smoking before park rangers moved in.

Forchion, of Browns Mills, a courier and former trucker, has been an outspoken advocate of legalizing marijuana for about 10 years and a perennial political candidate.

Yesterday, his misfortunes kept compounding. After he admitted smoking marijuana before the sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin R. Hayes reminded him he had better find another way home.

Getting arrested for driving under the influence, Rapoport added, would also violate probation.


You can follow the progress on this case by
clicking on the imgae of the Liberty Bell below:





WHY ISN'T MARIJUANA LEGAL:"RELIGIOUSLY"?


NJWEEDMAN: First of all I think marijuana is legal per first amendment guarantees! But for the sake of this interveiw I'll work with the question as it is. RACISM is why! Marijuana use is considered by many elitist whites as a NIGGER drug. With some merit too I might add. - Marijuana grows naturally in WEST AFRICA where 90% of all Africans in the U.S.A. came from thanks to the Christian institution of slavery. Most subsaharian African religions used marijuana and herbs as sacraments.



This is well documented, many Christian missionaries made it a point to try to rid the African of these "herb" rituals. The use of "herbs" was banned in Christianity in the 3rd century during the Council of the Trinity (creation of the catholic church), Christians considered the use of "herbs"  to be sinful and associated it's use with devil worshippers and pagans. The term(s) "WEED of the WITCHES", "DEVIL-WEED" and the herb of the devil are derived from this "CHRISTIAN SUPERSTITUTION". I go into that on my page: http://www.njweedman.com/why_marijuana_is_illegal.html

Reporter dude: What do you mean 1st Amendment guarantees, I never saw anything about marijuana in the constitution?

NJWEEDMAN: What I mean is the 1st Amendment provided for the protection of religious freedoms, unfortunately for those Americans who don't practice the religion of our law-makers (Christianity) we find that the 1st amendment is ignored. Our Christian law-makers make laws that respect thier faith, thier beliefs and practices while creating laws that make others illegal.

Reporter dude: I don't think the laws aren't written to outlaw anyone else's religion but to be neutrual. I understand you don't agree but could you elaborate?

NJWEEDMAN: Look at the 1919 Volstead Act commonly known as the National Alcohol  Prohibition Act at title II section 3, it provided from a religious exemption to the law, to allow Christians to use "wine" as a sacrament. For thousands of years "colored peoples" from around the world have used "marijuana" as a sacrament but when our all white congress enacted the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 they deliberately failed to make a religious exemption for "marijuana". It easily could have been done. The first national federal law that outlawed marijuana the Marijuana taxation Act of 1937 actually didn't outlaw it, it just taxed it to the point no-one could pay for it and the Government refused to issue tax stamps as required by the MTA. But most importantly the MTA allowed for the medical and as well as the religious Use of Marijuana. -Several other Federal Laws after the MTA provided that exemption as well. So it was no mistake that in 1969 when the CSA was passed thru both houses of Congress the issue of religious use wasn't considered. It was taken out of the Federal Laws.

It was rejected out of pure RACISM.
OUR ALL WHITE CONGRESS in 1969