Last Monday, Reverends Walter Tucker and Michael Baldasaro, leaders of the Church of the Universe, were arrested for sending marijuana to the Canadian Minister of Health, Alan Rock. The two reverends believe that marijuana is the tree of life, and were sending in a sample to the minister with hopes of becoming suppliers for upcoming medical trials.
When the first two grams that the brothers sent disappeared, it raised half-humorous media speculations that perhaps the minister and his aids had rolled it into joints and smoked it. The two reverends, always the thoughtful sacrament smokers, decided to save the minister the job of twisting his own dubes, and sent him a second package of pre-rolled joints. That’s when Minister Rock decided to get tough. A federal investigation was launched, and on Monday, May 15, an undercover officer was sent to join the church and gather evidence against Tucker and Baldasaro.
“He was wearing pajamas, like he was a crack addict or something, and he had a big roll of twenties,” said Brother Michael.
“I asked him if he was a narc,” recounted Brother Walter, the church’s founder. “He said, ‘No. Yes. I don’t remember.’ And I said, ‘I don’t care if you come in here wearing your red [mountie]uniform. I would still sell you sacrament because you are a member of the church.’ Then I talked to him about Auschwitz and how the guards there were just doing their job. And I pointed out to him that the guards were also charged for crimes against humanity.”
Later that same day police stormed into the church’s Hamilton, Ontario mission and stole the sacrament.
“They found about an ounce and a half of good sacrament,” said Brother Walter. “They found about a pound to a pound and a half of shake. The took all my cigarette papers. They took just about everything they could take, except my underwear. I feel contaminated by the federal government illegally going through my stuff.
“They took our computer,” said Brother Michael, indignant. “They wanted to prove that we wrote Alan Rock. As though we are denying it!” Taking the brothers’ computer effectively closed them off from communicating with the press or with other brothers and sisters about the RCMP’s latest attack on their church, and is more about harassment than about finding evidence. “At first we were going to get the computers back in one day. Then two. I am finding out now it might be two weeks before we see them again,” said Reverend Michael Baldasaro. The RCMP even seized the brothers’ collection of Cannabis Culture magazines.
In jail, the brothers reveled in the pluckiness that has made them famous. Both of them refused to remove their holy hempen hats, an act which has been the source of courthouse contention in the past (see CC #10). “Afterwards, Brother Walter almost appeared in court naked,” Brother Michael laughed.
“In Ontario now, everyone wears orange pajamas in jail,” explained Walter. “What happened was I wouldn’t give my hat up, so they threw me in the stinky hole. The next morning, I wanted a shower, and they made me wait. Then they said that they wanted me to have a shower and then they wanted me to put the same stinky dirty clothes on and appear in court. I said that I was innocent until proven guilty, and that I would wear my own clothes. They brought the warden down and he started harassing me, and I told him the same thing, that they were violating my constitutional rights. He made a motion and my clothes were there.”
The courthouse was filled with supporters. “It was good in a lot of ways. we renewed a lot of friendships in jail and in court, on both sides,” said Brother Michael. “Everyone came out in support of us, friends and lawyers. The RCMP were wrong to raid us in light of our federal court action.” Reverend Michael Baldasaro was referring to the church’s constitutional challenge for the religious freedom to use marijuana as sacrament, for which the court has still not set a date. Given that the issue of religious use has still to be decided, reasoned the brothers, they should be free to practice their religion without RCMP harassment. They were released on bail the same day.
“I fully intend to subpoena Alan Rock,” asserted Brother Walter. “If he needed evidence then he had it in the packages [of pot]we sent him. Why did he need to spend thousands and thousands of taxpayers dollars proving what wrote to him in a letter was true, that we sent him cannabis?”
Brothers Walter Tucker and Michael Baldasaro are charged with two counts each of trafficking to the Minister of Health. Brother Walter is charged with three counts of trafficking to an undercover officer, and Brother Michael with two of the same charge. Both are also charged with possession.
“I love the RCMP,” said Brother Walter. “I just don’t love what they do. They are human beings. They are god’s creatures. So I love them. But what they do is cruel, stupid and inhumane. Someone said, ‘At least we don’t kill people who smoke marijuana.’ And I said, ‘What is the difference between chopping off someone’s head or harassing them for thirty or forty years over their religious practice?’ I think it is more cruel than chopping their heads off.”
– For more information about the church, including an archive of media clippings detailing the church’s brave stand against government oppression, check out their website at www.iamm.com. They can be reached by e-mail, when their computer is returned, at [email protected]. Phone (905) 522-3247.