On February 26, the Ontario Provincial Court stayed cannabis charges against Church of the Universe Reverends Walter Tucker and Michael Baldasaro until after their federal court challenge. The two brothers are challenging the federal court, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to recognize the church’s inherent right to use cannabis as a sacrament (CC#30, Busted up dates).
On April 15, the federal court will hear a motion by the crown to stay the charter challenge and move it to provincial court, where the government likely stands a better chance of beating the church. “This is the same as the last three times they asked for the case to be dismissed as frivolous and vexations,” said Reverend Tucker. “I think the courts are really stalling.”
The Church of the Universe’s Reverend Mike “Tarzan” Ethier continues to languish behind bars while the challenge continues, still fighting pot charges connected with his medical cannabis dispensary and from sending sacrament to the church’s high counsel, brothers Tucker and Baldasaro.
“We expected him out a couple of weeks ago,” explained Reverend Tucker. “They are saying he has to order the transcript to apply for bail, but you don’t have to apply for a transcript if it’s a prisoner appeal. It’s supposed to be all done for you. They are using a technicality to hold him back as far as I can determine.”
In California, Northern Lights Church reverends ? whose congregation faced violent cops with automatic rifles in an attack on their medical cannabis operation in August of last year (CC#29, Med-pot ministries) ? have been seeking compensation for damages from the raid.
Last year, after the raid, 33 church members filed a “Petition for the Redress of Grievances” to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, which was denied on February 20. In one of the claims, Reverend David Jack wrote that he felt “spiritually and morally raped” by the police attack.
The church is now moving forward with a civil lawsuit against the county, with the help of Santa Cruz attorney Kate Wells. The congregation complains that police violated the 1996 Compassionate Use Act, stole legal medical cannabis which lead to the death of a parishioner and the suffering of others, trespassed against their religious freedoms, made slanderous remarks against and traumatized the congregation, stole medical records, and emotionally harmed Reverend Rick and Sue Garner’s 15-year-old son when police cut and tested his hair for marijuana, which led to charges of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” against his parents.
? Church of the Universe: (905) 522 -3247; email [email protected]; email www.iamm.com
? Northern Lights Church: PO Box 518, San Andreas CA, 95249; email [email protected]; website www.northernlightschurch.org
? Drugsense’s spiritual cannabis listserve: www.drugsense.org/sc (sign up at this page to receive spiritual cannabis news and history)