Throw Me in Jail, Marijuana Minister Tells Court

A man who promotes marijuana as a church sacrament asked to be sent to jail Monday rather than serve a community sentence.

Shahrooz Kharaghani, 32, was found guilty of trafficking marijuana and hashish in a Queen St. E. neighbourhood.

If sentenced to house arrest he would immediately smoke pot to commune with God, violating a condition to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour,” his lawyer told a sentencing hearing.

Such a violation would mean going to jail, so he might as well go to jail straightaway, lawyer George Filipovic argued before Ontario Superior Court Justice Thea Herman.

“These are not typical sentencing submissions,” Herman said from the bench, apparently taken by surprise.

Kharaghani and co-accused Peter Styrsky, 53, call themselves ministers in the Assembly of the Church of the Universe, which they say serves 4,000 congregants across Canada.

For Styrsky, also convicted of trafficking in a case dating to 2006, both sides argued for a six-month sentence, which would amount to immediate release because of time served in pre-trial custody.

For Kharaghani, Crown prosecutor Nick Devlin was recommending a six-month community sentence, which would likely involve one or two months of house arrest and afterward a curfew.

“It is very unusual that the Crown would be saying the jail sentence should be served in the community,” Devlin said outside the courtroom, “but in this case we don’t think Mr. Kharaghani is somebody who needs to be behind bars.”

Asked for comment, Kharaghani said: “I wish for our hearts to be reconnected. I wish for the awakening and the reconnection of the bicameral mind.”

Herman reserved sentencing in both cases to consider the arguments.

– Article from The Toronto Star.