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.