May 28th, 2002


Rastafarians hit it big in pot fight

Of The Examiner Staff


It's illegal to smoke ganja in Jamaica. At the Presidio, it's a different story. After all, it's freedom of religion -- if you're a Rastafarian, and have the dreadlocks to prove it.

Yep, those days of hiding that certain smell from your landlord are over. Rastafarians can now smoke out in the great outdoors as long as they keep it on federal land -- wink, wink -- and they have Benny Toves Guerrero to thank for the action.

Guerrero was arrested at the Guam airport for marijuana possession, but his appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ended favorably Tuesday.

The court ruled that Congress had the power to make religious exemptions to existing laws. The result: A loophole allowing the smoking of weed -- a spiritual offering in the Rastafarian religion -- on federal land.

Around the Rastafarian community Wednesday, the court ruling was being savored like a long, slow toke.

"That's what I was telling you this morning," said a friend trying to help Jamaica native Glendon Codling, who was selling necklaces from a table on Market and Fifth streets Wednesday, fully realize the effect of the decision. "Can I be a Rasta?"

Unfortunately, Codling's Caucasian buddy might not pass muster. In other words, don't expect an influx of new converts.

"A Rasta comes with the hair," said Newton Gordon, Jamaica's honorary consul to San Francisco. "You don't see a Rasta with a nice crew cut."

But they do have pot. It's an integral part of the Rasta religion, and now, they don't have to hide it anymore. They can go to Ocean Beach, Crissy Field, Point Reyes, even the Farallons, and light a doobie.

"In Jamaica, it's a lot like food," Codling said. "It's like relaxation. But in Jamaica you get in big, big trouble."

You mean in the home of Bob Marley it is illegal to smoke pot? Codling was asked.

"Yes," he said, musing about the idea of being able to light one up near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Gordon explained that the law was implemented as a means to avoid a strong dependence on Colombian drug lords.

"But everybody looks the other way," Gordon said. "In Jamaica, no one's going to arrest you for smoking pot."

No one will here either, just watch where you're standin



Religious Use Defense


..Here is a brief summary/intro from one humble perspective to go with "Creative Philosophy and Sociology..." and Addendum...

This gives a brief sketch of how someone might use provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to make a claim or defense for their cultural practices, such as marijuana use and Peaceable Assembly...

PLEASE NOTE: ...this is Creative Philosophy and Sociology, ...not formal legal advice.

This is a short summary of Religious Use Defense, to go along with my long, many paged document Creative Philosophy and Sociology of the Law of Peace, which contains a rather full compilation of the the overall picture of the law, as it relates to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA &93), and the U.S. Constitution, in regards to Peaceable Assembly and Marijuana as Sacrament, etc.. For you, as an individual, this (brief) document can only be viewed as my sharing ideas as to how to approach a situation, not as formal legal advice. I am giving you my perspective on these matters, as a traveler on the Road of Life, for your information. ...thanks.

Individual Scenarios
Possession, Use, Growing, Sharing of Marijuana/hemp, or
Other Helpful Herbs And plants

Suppose you are approached by an officer of the law:

  1. 1. Give only the information that is required. Give as little information as possible, and if there are to be possible (criminal) charges. Say nothing. Do not consent to search, try to remain silent, ask for legal help, contact friends and family, do not give them names of friends or associates, etc.

  3. 2. If you are busted -- request legal help, and/or when you stand before a Judge, alone -- pro se -- or with a Public Defender, or Lawyer -- Innocent -- request Religious Use Defense, under Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. -Your Lawyer, the Judge, Prosecutors, etc., all know that you have the Right to this Defense.

  5. 3. What if? you say,... you ain't religious -- well, do you or do you not believe, feel, know, accept, want, will, do believe that Marijuana helps you: for sacrament, medicinal, industrial -- Helps your mental health, makes you feel better. Consider your first (inhale) of marijuana, and your reaction/relationship to your first &toke' of marijuana. Did this make you feel different, better? And/or, do you or have you had a long standing relationship to marijuana? Do you consider this a (habit ) or is it your cultural practice/your lifestyle, i.e your beliefs --CREED? Do you feel that you have the Right to use/possess/grow/share marijuana? Or do you feel that Marijuana is just a plant? If marijuana is a significant part of your everyday life, you QUALIFY.

  7. 4. Consider this: Are you committing a crime when you use/possess/grow/share marijuana or are you exercising your Right to your (pursuit of happiness? Are you exercising your Right of Free Expression? (see Soapbox decision). You have the Right to Free Exercise of Religious beliefs; i.e. under due process, what goes for a Rastafarian goes for an athiest, goes for someone who just believes marijuana/hemp is good for them and is good for society. [see First Amendment, Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Rastafarian ruling, 1996.] Only you know if you have criminal intent or First Amendment intent in freely exercising your religious/political/cultural/lifestyle beliefs; ie, CREED. In Civil Rights --Race, Color, Creed --Equality!

  9. 5. When you meet your lawyer, or Public Defender, say (I want to use Religious Use Defense.) Give him this list of cases below; or if you are pro se, check through these cases, any law library has them, and/or your lawyer or public defender can easily access them e-mail. Do not be surprised if your Lawyer, Judges, or Prosecutors, have not heard about these cases and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. However, they are bound by this Act of Congress and the Code of Judicial Conduct to help you with this Religious Use Defense.

  11. 6. Your personal witness, plus your affidavits and expert witnesses, is your Religious Use Defense; this is what constitutes your Claim under Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- see section on Judicial Relief.

  13. 7. Under Due Process Laws, if a Rastafarian can use Religous Use Defense, someone who isn't religious at all, or is an athiest or an agnostic or a non-believer, anyone with an intrinsic relationship to marijuana/hemp is equally protected under due process laws -- see Rastafarian ruling, and U.S. Constitution.

Peaceable Assembly -- Gathering

If you and your friends or other People, gather for some purpose, or Peaceably Assemble , on Public or Private Land, for any form of Cultural Expression -- i.e. barter faire, gathering, outdoor music festival, religious and/or political assembly, and/or other types of Peaceable Assembly, and/or to petition for Redress of Grievances, and/or generally to get togather in order to have a Peaceable Association -- the Religious Use Defense, and the Soapbox Decision are good to know. All these cases relate to a Person's Right to EXPRESSION of their CREED -- their expression of shared beliefs -- within the context of a Peaceable Assembly.

The Federal Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Regulation 36 CFR 251-261 (listed below) is a good one to study because it outlines the Government's case, applied Federally. However, most locales: City, County and State, will use similar (generally applicable laws) in order to stop Peaceable Assemblies. There is an entire section in RFRA &93 on (generally applicable laws.)

Religious Use Defense, applies to all Peaceable Assemblies. If People Gather or Assemble Peaceably, they, as Individuals and Together (collectively), are being Constitutionally correct -- it is within an individual's inalienable Rights to (pursuit of happiness) and (Free exercise) of Religious/political/culural/lifestyle Expression of beliefs, i.e. CREED. How to Peaceably Assemble is a (power. .. held respectively by the People) [see U.S. Constitution]. Under RFRA &93, (generally applicable laws) -- such as (enforcement emphasis) or (Police State tactics) on the threshold of Peaceable Assemblies -- would violate First Amendment Freedoms.

This is illegal.

Either Pro Se, or with your Lawyer, demand Religious Use Defense -- it is your right!


  1. 1. Read the U.S. Constitution, First Amendment etc... Learn your Rights so when you are stopped or arrested, you can Stand Up for Your Rights!

  3. 2. Native American Religious Freedom Act of 1979 -- Native American folks should ask your lawyer to explain your Rights under this Act, and see Employment v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 108 L. Ed. 2d 876, 110 S. Ct. 1595 (1990) (Peyote case, Oregon), mentioned in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

  5. 3. Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 -- Public Law 103-141 (H.R. 1308). [note: This is retroactive (applies before 1993)-- see Rastafarian Ruling].

  7. 4. Rastafarian ruling...JAH RastaFarI leads the Way!...Right to Religious Use Defense for marijuana under RFRA &93 -- Fed 1996 -- U.S. v. Dawn Meeks, et al, No. 94-30076, et al, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 1458, United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit --Filed Feb. 2, 1996.

  9. 5. Soapbox Decision, June 1995 -- U.S. Supreme Court, June 19, 1995, John J. Hurley and South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, v. Irish G.L.I.B. -- No. 94- 749 -- Right to your own Free Expression, i.e. Free Speech...

  11. 6. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Regulation 36 CFR 251 - 261 -- [Federal Register Vol 60, No. 168, Wed August 30, 1995, pgs. 45259 etc.] - - This Regulation is a (generally applicable law,) like marijuana regulations -- it contains the Federal Government's case law concerning marijuana as well as Peaceable Assembly on Public Lands -- gives you a good idea what you are up against....

  13. 7. U. S. v. Rainbow -- U.S. v. Barry Adams, pro se, (Texas, 1988), and U.S. v. Gideon Israel (Arizona, 1986) -- are both positive decisions relating to Religious Use Defense for Individuals' Rights to Gather (sustained by RFRA &93).

  15. 8. My full paper: Creative Philosophy and Sociology of the Law of Peace -- which has most of all this information in it -- includes addendum on Soapbox decision -- available on e-mail at various Rainbow points of light addresses, also...

Good luck to you all, keep the faith, all information welcome, stand tall for your rights to your Civil Liberties, let's turn this energy around, please don't wait to be busted,... find ways... restore your Religious Freedom -- Creed... -- NOW!

Harriet Tubman Lives! -Your friends and family on the Road,
Barry Adams, plunker, and Sue -- Montana Family -- Rainbow Tribe
WEEP Box 8574, Missoula, MT 59807

-- Restore the Earth -- Restore the People --