The Law on Cannabis’ Holy Sacrament Exception

When plants are used with holiness within the context of a religious sacrament, their “users” (cannabis enthusiasts) become ipso facto legally immune from criminal prosecution, by virtue of the First Amendment and international law, inter alia.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the government from making laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (Amendment 1) (1)

Furthermore, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed by Congress in 1993 and amended in 2003, the government is required to show a “compelling interest” in order to “substantially burden” a legitimate religious practice.

If hallucinogens like peyote or alcohol like whiskey can be legal under this standard, it follows that milder more therapeutic substances like marijuana is also legally protected.

If the rastafrarian religion has prevailed in court on behalf of its cannabis rituals, so should other spiritual and religious groups, if only because the “equal protection of the laws” is of fundamental constitutional  relevance.  (2)

Not long ago a Federal court judge ruled that religion can be used as a defense in a marijuana distribution charge. But so far, the US Supreme Court has not had the final word on this issue. And no State of the Union has dared to enact a provision legalizing marijuana on the basis of religion, notwithstanding the legality of using alchohol for religious reasons.(3)

 Many people use marijuana as a religious sacrament, just like with wine. (4) Forcing them not to use marijuana clearly prohibits the free exercise of their religion.

In order to comply with the First Amendment, federal law-makers should stop accepting bribery money from, inter alia, Pharceutical firms (the biggest donors). They should also cease and desist from persecuting millions of legitimate cannabis users. They should abide by the Constitution, by international recognized human rights law and the People’s Will. But most don’t. Still, the “sacramental use exception principle” is a valid defense for harassed cannabis enthusiast. This principle will one day will be better recognized and get incorporated in positive law. But there can be no formal recognition until more People vindicate their  fundamental religious and human rights to grow, consume and enjoy the many benefits of organically grown holy weed. (5)  Ch. J.

Top: A DEA’s “Cannabis War” helicopter. Federal government’s military forces have often poisoned cannabis with toxic sprays, the consequence of which have increased the People’s physiological “toxic burden”.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field”. Mathew 12:25
Click here to read what each  State has determined with regard to the sacramental use of holy plants.
(1). The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government. This fundamental right is one of the constitutional  foundations that defines the American Republic.
(2).  Rastafarians use marijuana in religious rituals to enhance their consciousness of the relationship between God, Creation, and the individual soul. The Society of Friends (Quakers) also favor legalization (Cf. The Legalization Option, by Walter Wink) as well as many Christians and Jews. (i.e.,  Judeo-Christian scripture and tradition support the legalization of marijuana). In addition, the Shinto and Indian tradition incorporates Cannabis in both its spiritual practice and in its healing arts.  (Cf Stephen Gaskin’s book, Cannabis Spirituality).
(3). People consume alcohol for religious reasons, especially Jews. At least 25 states even allow minors to consume alcohol for religious purposes. Various world religions include the practice of ritual drinking of alcohol. Christians drink communion wine. Jews drink Kiddush wine, Passover Seder wine, and consume alcohol on festivals such as Purim where the tradition is to celebrate by drinking until one can’t distinguish Haman (the enemy) and Mordecai (the hero) etc.
(4). Even the Government’s wine and alcohol prohibition of last century, which banned alcohol in the U.S., exempted wine “for sacramental purposes, or like religious rites.”
(5). Be that as it may, in the face of criminal prosecution,  it’s always a good defense to claim that you are practicing your “religious belief system” .  Just make sure that this religious conviction is central to your belief system and that cannabis helps you to get in touch with God, as have successfully done the Rastafarians with cannabis and the Native Americans with peyote.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog should be construed as medical or legal advise.
2017 Copyright (c). Ganja Gardens,  Advanced Cannabis Research Institute, Advanced Cannabis Law Academy and agents.