CANNABIS CULTURE – What started as a desire to reach stoners with the Bible has once again morphed into a new house of worship for Hollywood’s Craig X as he and his wife open the Beverly Hills Green Cross.
You walk into the Beverly Hills Green Cross at 2370 South Robertson Blvd. and see a clean and orderly place where anyone would feel at ease: white walls, white carpet, and an attractive young sales woman wearing a white lab coat. To some it is as if they have died and gone to cannabis heaven. Others might say they have prepared for the afterlife by visiting the BHGC because it is exactly what you would expect from a medical marijuana clinic run by a church. The walls are painted with quotes in green from the Bible. As you sit on the white leather couches gazing at the medicine under the glass table with your magnifying glass you feel strangely at home. There is a sense of comfortableness about being in this dispensary.
A quiet calmness pervades the place and as you begin to read the quotes from the Bible you notice something strange; they are all from the fourth chapter twentieth verse of different books from the Bible. One quote asks how a man can say he loves God, and hate his brother because how can he love a God that he has never seen and hate a brother who he has seen. One seemingly pot-related quote from the Book of Mark speaks of planting a seed in good soil and returning a harvest that is 30-, 60- or even a 100-fold greater. Marijuana smokers are typically more spiritually aware than the average citizen, but not all of them are drawn towards the Bible like Pastor Craig X Rubin.
Cannabis Culture readers know the pastor from Temple 420 on Hollywood Blvd. Others from his appearances in pot movies or the TV show ‘Weeds’ on Showtime. “I find it funny when people get star struck around me,” says Rubin. “I am just a normal dude. Well, a normal dad with seven kids and I speak up for cannabis, but I am glad that my minor celebrity status has allowed me to get the good news out about hemp and the Bible.”
Rubin is being somewhat humble having produced the first bong commercial in America back in the early 1990s with the catchy tag line, “Can’t we all just get a bong?” He also appeared in TIME Magazine after showing America how to end the Drug War when he sold legal marijuana at Super Bowl XXX in Arizona using a ‘cannabis dealer’s license and the Department of Revenue tax stamps. He wrote about the experience in a book entitled 9021GROW.
“I have worked hard for years trying to end the prohibition on cannabis” Rubin said, “it has not been easy, but what I am most proud of is being there to answer questions for young people about pot and the Bible.” Rubin not only teaches future pastors a course in “The Jewish History of the New Testament,” but says that college students from all over the country write him with Bible questions that he takes the time to answer.
Recently Rubin ran for Mayor of Los Angeles. He didn’t win, but his appearance on the local news shows became quite popular on the Internet. I contacted Fox News and found the clip of candidate Rubin to be the most watched of any candidates. Although he didn’t get the most votes he may have had the greatest impact. After his pro-pot candidacy began to build, a Bill was introduced in California, AB 390, which will allows more people to do as Craig Rubin did back in 1996 at Super Bowl XXX. Rubin had purchased a ‘Cannabis Dealer’s License’ and ‘Tax Stamps’ from the state, similar to what a new bill is proposing and the bill includes a provision for a license to grow cannabis.
Rubin said that being arrested and becoming a convicted felon over pot was what drove him to run for Mayor of Los Angeles. “A lot of young people in this country fantasize about becoming President of the United States and I was no different.” Rubin pontificates, “I guess I didn’t get involved with politics before because I thought you had to be rich. Now I realize you just have to be right.”
Rubin actually ran on some sound policies. He wanted desalinized water for Los Angeles, to lower the taxes on manufactures bringing more jobs to the city and to protect tax and regulate marijuana clubs. “I am not sure I’d like to be President any more, but I still believe in public service and like the song, ‘I Love LA.’” Rubin is serious, but his sense of humor makes conversation lighthearted when discussing serious matters, whether race, religion or the economy.
Since his house of worship was shut down, Rubin has been a pastor at the predominantly African-American church, ‘The Family Church’, led by Bishop Donnie Williams. The Bishop is part of Hollywood culture too, having appeared in seventeen films including Bruce Lee’s cult classic, “Enter the Dragon.” The Bishop, as a veteran of law enforcement, does not share Rubin’s passion for pot, stating, “If I were President, cigarettes would be illegal, but I voted for Pastor Craig because I believe in him. Just like I voted for Obama even though I am against abortion and he is not.”
As a young man, Rubin was taken by his family to the Havasupai Indian Reservation on annual journeys to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. When he reached adulthood he continued to visit the Native American tribe, participating in their ceremonies and learning their ways of prayer. Rubin explains his theology, “I just teach the Bible, but just as ancient Jews transferred the sin of their nation to an innocent lamb sacrificed in the Holy place, the Indians believe that smoke of fragrant herbs carry prayers.”
Cannabis historian Chris Bennett has written a book on the religious use of cannabis and incense burning that has long been a part of the Judeo-Christian experience. The Pastor claims that he was reaching people who had not been to church or temple since they were children. “We didn’t smoke in church,” Rubin stated contradicting false reports in the media during his campaign for mayor, “we simply burned a cannabis bud and blessed people with the smoke in a Friday night candle lighting ceremony at sundown.”
Temple 420 was helping to get homeless people off of the street, working with a police officer’s daughter who had turned to prostitution and had helped to get young women out of pornography, besides teaching the Bible. The pastor said, “I always thought that porn and prostitution were victimless crimes, but after running the house of worship I realized they were not. It was not easy but we were doing the Lord’s work.” The pro-pot pastor then joked, “Selling weed for the Lord.”
God was truly changing people’s lives through the ministry of Temple 420 and that continues to this day even without the physical temple on Hollywood Blvd. Young people are starting their own Temple 420s around the country and Pastor Craig is encouraging their boldness. One gentleman named Jacob, a 19 year old in Richmond, VA, started a temple and has started posting to YouTube.com, and he speaks with the Pope of pot via email as do his young disciples around the country who love God, the Bible and marijuana. People who had been away from church for years suddenly feel comfortable coming to a ‘weed church’ and talking to a ‘weed pastor’, even though these marijuana mavens only ever teach the Bible.
“It is my firm belief that if you are sincere, as I was, in running your Temple 420, then the Lord will provide a way,” Rubin says confidently now, but things were not always so easy. The Rubin family had a rough time after starting Temple 420, when the pastor was arrested by a cadre of federal and state officials and charged with possession and distribution of marijuana. In his defense he was not allowed to mention the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights.
Things have gotten a lot better since then. On May 15th, 2008, with the assistance of attorney Barry O. Bernstein, Pastor Rubin regained his right to sell marijuana. The judge ruled that the pastor could once again, “own and operate a marijuana facility (club).”
Rubin, while still on probation and unable to leave L.A. County, sees a brighter future for his family now that Attorney General Eric Holder is clearly stating that legally run medical marijuana clubs will be protected. The Beverly Hills Green Cross is located in a mini-mall right next door to Mrs. X’s shop, “Tara’s Tease” an upscale t-shirt and gift shop on the fashionable Robertson Blvd. owned by Craig’s wife.
Things are looking better for Rubin’s seized assets as well. District Attorneys seized Rubin’s assets prior to his conviction, but they are finally starting to take an interest in the case after three years. Once a government seizes assets of an individual, the case is actually against the money itself and not the individual who owned the property. Assets don’t have rights either, so without habeas corpus rights the government can hold an individual’s assets indefinitely without a hearing or trial. That is why Rubin speaks out against asset forfeiture. “It is no different than what the British did to the colonists,” he says.
Rubin answered the DA’s questions in papers filed with the Superior Court on March 12, 2009, contending in the documents that people involved with the seizure violated the law. Rubin alleges in this public document that law enforcement had a conflict of interest and that a DEA Agent stole a $60 bottle of Holy Anointing Oil. He says the main witness perjured herself in court and his videos prove it. He names Patrick Kelly of the DEA for using a hammer to smash open the donation box of a legal recognized non-profit religious organization.
However, the most egregious of all the acts Rubin outlines is the actions of lawyers who appear to have been working in cooperation with law enforcement. In the legal brief, Rubin writes as counsel pro per, “I think the action of November 9, 2006 when an LAPD officer approached me, Craig Rubin, pretending to be an employee of legalzoom.com, a business across the street from Temple 420, saying that Robert Shapiro wanted to handle the case pro bono, was a violation of both professional ethics and prevented me from my 6th Amendment right to reasonable counsel.”
He goes on to detail how Robert Shapiro had given potentially horrible legal advice in comparison to pro-pot attorney Bruce Margolin, who had advised him to remove his assets from the bank to insure the ability to pay for a professional defense. The Pastor uses his usual sense of humor to joke about his legal defense, “The guy was Jewish, so I trusted him. You know what they say about Jewish attorneys being good. However, looking back he sucked! And, he lost the case, so I should have fired him. Too bad I represented myself.”
The Pastor has shown me his papers, his videos, and his new house of worship as he is eager to get his story out, and I have heard all I can for one day. Now I thank God I live in California and have a doctor’s note allowing me to buy some Kush. I lean forward on the white couch, making a choice, surprised by the huge selection of high-quality cannabis and low prices. I was expecting the cannabis to cost a lot more in this neighborhood, but surprisingly the prices are cheaper than most shops I’ve been to. I think I just might start going to church again and I know I’ll be back as a patient to the Beverly Hills Green Cross. The Pastor has made a believer out of me.