Roger Christie Absurdly Considered ‘Danger to the Community’, Held Without Bail

On July 8, 2010, fourteen people were raided in Hawaii on charges stemming from a secret indictment by a federal grand jury of the THC Ministry, a church claiming the religious right to use cannabis as a sacrament.

Of those fourteen, thirteen were released on bail, but the District Court denied bail to one, the leader of the church, Roger Christie.

The felony marijuana charges include:

(1) conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 100 or more marijuana plants;
(2) manufacturing marijuana (240 marijuana plants); and
(3) possession with the intent to distribute.

In denying bail for Mr. Christie, the government claims he is a “danger to the community”:

CHRISTIE AS A DANGER TO THE COMMUNITY, AS EVIDENCED BY HIS DECISION TO RECOMMENCE THE MINISTRY’S MARIJUANA TRAFFICKING OPERATIONS AFTER BEING SEARCHED ON MARCH 10, 2010:

Of particular importance to Magistrate Chang’s decision was Christie’s conscious decision to recommence the Ministry’s marijuana trafficking activities after March 10, 2010.

On March 10, 2010, Federal law enforcement officers searched the Ministry’s business premises (located at 94 Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo, HI), Christie’s residence, and Christie/St. Cyr’s safety deposit box. At that time, about 12 live marijuana plants, marijuana seeds, and various liquids in vials suspected to contain marijuana by-products (as tinctures and oils) were found and recovered at the Ministry’s business premises.

Aside from the [$21,494 in] cash discussed above, approximately 845 grams of processed marijuana (453.6 grams = one pound) and various bottles/jars containing suspected marijuana tinctures and oils were also seized from Christie’s residence.

So, the danger to the community in this case is that if Roger Christie was out on bail, he’d reopen his church and continue growing and sharing cannabis with the people of Hawaii?  In Christie’s petition to the court, he promised he would cease church activities if released on bail but the court apparently didn’t buy the promise since he didn’t cease church activities after the March 10 search.

Regardless, holding someone without bail is something we should reserve for flight risks or truly dangerous offenders.  Nobody could reasonably argue that a gentle soul like Roger Christie is going to harm society.  It is not as if the people who would go to THC Ministry for their sacrament are going without cannabis while he’s in jail; surely there are marijuana suppliers in Hawaii who will take up the slack.

What this is really about is the silencing of a successful activist.  It’s the same principle used to shut up Marc Emery.  It is Roger Christie’s political activism that is being persecuted here.  No standard grower caught with a plants, seeds, tinctures, and less than a kilo of pot would be held without reasonable bail, especially considering the lack of firearms, prior criminal record, and any other drug activities.

This case illustrates why it is so important to legalize marijuana for all adults.  The “danger to the community” angle only works if marijuana is criminal.  The state feels a danger from a church because the marijuana they use as sacrament is criminal.  Roger has preached a religious right to use cannabis protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but even with that right, illegal cannabis for all would still result in unreasonable restrictions for religious users, just as medical users are limited in plant numbers and possession amounts, subject to evictions and firings and drug tests, and still forced to prove their legitimacy lest they face arrest like everyone else who uses cannabis.

If you’d like to help Roger, send him mail, or donate to his case, please visit the THC Ministry website.

– Article from NORML Stash Blog.

Comments

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    an enemy of freedom,..really? How about a Big Island realist. How am I an enemy of freedom? Bottomline, Roger is being detained by the federal government. They are not gonna set him free and say they made a mistake. No, the feds are gonna lie & cheat to get a conviction like they always do. Roger’s case will be no different. Unfortunate as it may be,this is how they(feds) roll. But one good lie doesn’t deserve another good lie does it?
    At one point I was in full support of Roger’s vision for Hilo & Hawaii. That was until he made that tatical business mistake. This is where I personally believe Roger messed up. Again, I will say in his heart I know he’s a good person! I will also say I believe greed was what pulled him down. I had no problem with what he was doing. That was until he decided to expand his business beyond his so-called “flock”. At one point the THC Ministry decided they would deal with ‘medical cannabis’ ,crowd too. I’m an advocate of medical cannabis,and once I saw that the THC Ministry was now taking on the state’s medical cannabis patients. I watched with a keen interest,as he made fist over dollar with his new client base. That was his first mistake. A church turning a profit at the expense of the sick. Patients were told it was better to donate for a quarter ounce, more bang for your buck. What was the price for that quarter oz? A cool $100.00 donation was recommended by ministry employees to obtain that quarter oz. Now he was charging sick people at a profit. Why? More proof it was about the “dead presidents”. He started a little cannabis college workshops at around $100.00 a course. Why wasn’t that offered up free to the community? I think if he would have offered up these things at a bare minimum, he wouldn’t be sittin were he is. But that’s just my opinion.

  2. Anonymous on

    You clearly do not know Roger, and you are an enemy of Freedom.

  3. Anonymous on

    On the Big Island there are several groups that the cannabis community falls under. The more established growers, who would rather like to see all the THC Ministry news just fade away,…and take Mr. Christie with it too. Then the other side that support Mr. Christie’s efforts, which the majority are homeless, and make up the majority of his customer base. Radical Russ had it right originally. I’m not sure why he changed his stance on it?

    I thought churches were non-profit entities, so how does the THC Ministry sleep at night? The vast majority of his flock/clientele are homeless individuals,and a small group of old time 60’s/70’s hippies from in and around Hilo.

    Make no mistake, over the years Roger Christie has been a cannabis activist for the Big Island,and I believe it came from the heart too. But his latest business opportunity was all about the profit. Why else would his ministry charge street prices for the sacrament? Especially if 90% of it was coming from in-house growers(Mr. Christie himself does not know how to grow),flock members? Personally I think Mr. Christie is human, and he fell victim to our harsh economy. Then when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped and he jumped big time. Wanted to make money so bad for himself & the ministry he lost sight of some simple basics, and that being safety first! His doorman at the THC Ministry during business hours was a DEA plant for christsake! That alone sends chills up my spine!

    One last thing about being denied bail. Myself, “I did time”. It was federal time too. I walked away from my last federal prison a little over 13 years ago. At that time, and it could still hold true today. The only people who got bail on a federal drug cases were the slimey individuals who turned on their family & friends. So I’m not sure why all these people are all bent outta shape about no bail for Mr. Christie. Does that mean his co-defendants turned on somebody? I don’t know. But this area about the arrest really bothers me. How did the others get busted with Mr. Christie? In “Drug Dealers 101”, one of the very first things you learn is to keep your mouth shut, and don’t keep a record book of drug debts. But if you have to, make sure it’s done in code. The DEA love people to use their Cel phones. As a search warrant isn’t needed to listen to cel phone airwaves. People get lazy too!

    Bottomline, if the feds take you to trial it because they are sure of their cases against said indivuals. They have an incredible like 96% conviction rate. Roger’s best chance would be the 9th curcuit Court of Appeals. I’m afraid Mr. Christie isn’t gonna see Hilo for sometime. Plus, don’t hold your breathe if you think NORML is gonna help at all. If they didn’t help Marc Emery. Who over the years has pored thousands of dollars into the NORML coffers . But why hasn’t Allen St. Pierre come to Marc Emery’s defense? So if Emery isn’t getting any NORML help, Christie would do best not to hold his breathe.

  4. Hokulani Cheneviere on

    Has NORML ever considered filing a class action suit against the govt? Is it even possible?

    And MAHALO NUI LOA, Russ!

  5. Anonymous on

    What the government really means is that if Roger were out pending trial it might be a danger to their prosecution of the case, what with press conferences and exposure and such

  6. Pastor Ray in Cambodia on

    Dear Russ; Thanks for giving us a neutral journalistic discourse on the unjust nature of the ‘selective persecution’from the USA federal and state officials.

    Thanks to the strong efforts of scholar-Dr.Chris Bennett who has the skill level to bring stand-off with TEAM NORML ;meanwhile,Paul Stanford is working for a more formal truce agreement, and Roger Christie support network. Sister Share in Hawai’i is driving the goddess voices and ‘cannabis church’ phenomenon towards coalescence. We must help Raj get bail and a ‘celebrity for the people’trial.

    We thank CC zine for this exposure,and we want KUSH CON to debate this issue. As we bring synthesis: Paul & Russ rethink how good manners within our movement can be used to enjoin our enemies as well.John Doe Radio and NORML LIVE show can do more on this in December.

    THC Ministry Hour on Wed 8am MST has Rev. Xcannabis Dec.,1st-Scholar Bennett Dec 8th-BZ420 15th-Paul Stanford 22nd-RadRuss and wife 29th(?)-Sister Share Jan 5th 2011..all year we celebrate the goddess voice and claim MOTHER NATURE. ONELOVE

  7. Dave on

    There must be a way we can “Prosecute the prosecutors”?

  8. Jayelle Farmer on

    Yes, it’s a great article and kudos to Russ and to you also, Chris, for both showing a sincere generosity of spirit and grace to ending the infighting on this.

  9. Carl Olsen on

    The denial of bail in this case makes no sense and is a blatant example of a political hate crime.

  10. Carl Olsen on

    The denial of bail in this case makes no sense and is a blatant example of a political hate crime.

  11. Anonymous on

    This is an excellent article, Russ. Thank you for writing this masterpiece. Free Roger & Marc!

  12. Chris Bennett on

    Jack Herer on the religious use of cannabis and cannabis history (1995)
    Here is what the Founder of the modern hemp and marijuana movement, Jack Herer had to say about the potential and relevance of the religious history of cannabis in his forward to my own partially co-authored book, Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijauna in Magic and Religion, and it should be noted that I would say that at this time, this line of research was still in its infancy:
    Twenty three years ago, I began the study of Cannabis sativa, marijuana, as hemp in industry, medicine and religion. One of the big surprises for me was how virtually every religion of the Old World, from early Pantheism to Hinduism; from the Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Esssens; the Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Sufi, Theraputae of Egypt, to the Bantus, Zulas, Hottentots etc. of Africa; all used cannabis/hemp for fiber, food, oil, medicine, and as one of their sacred religious catalysts. For the majority of our ancient ancestors cannabis was the most important sacrament to commune with their gods….
    Hemp drugs were a ritual link with the gods themselves. For example the incense burners of the Jewish temples, filled with cannabis, hash oils, etc., would swing back and forth into parishioners’ faces causing them to perceive things much differently. Hemp as incense was cooked and eaten or heated and smoked.
    Throughout my studies of the religious pasts of marijuana for THE EMPEROR, I wondered how far someone could go in telling the myths and religious use of psychedelic substances, e.g., magic mushrooms, cannabis , blue water lilies, mandrake, etc. Lynn and Judy Osburn (the main editors of THE EMPEROR from 1990 on) and Chris Bennett have done the most important and remarkable job of delving into the history of the sacramental use of cannabis, and proving that indeed virtually all our religions were based on drug induced initiation. To initiate one with cannabis or magic mushrooms was the rite of passage in most sects.
    No one has done a better nor more comprehensive job of proving the importance, indeed the necessity, of cannabis in religion. No where has more scholarship been done to prove that hemp was the number one or two sacrament for the majority of humanity’s religions. Today this knowledge of hemp as a sacrament has been forgotten or censored out of most organized religions. Some ignorant religious leaders even run around saying that cannabis is so bad it must be wiped from the face of the earth…. With the proof of cannabis ingestion as magic in religion… coupled with the comprehensive information about hemp’s 25,000 uses as earth’s number one plant, it won’t be long until millions throw of the yoke of religious repression against the plants of the gods.
    Love Jack Herer, October 30, 1995

  13. Zenarchist.Swordsman on

    BRAVO Radical Russ!

    The denial of Bail is one of the most glaring misappropriations of justice in this case so far, and cannot be allowed to set a precedent.

  14. Slide on

    Thank you Russ.

  15. Chris Bennett on

    Great article.