Hawaiian spirit shake-down

Prohibition hangs by a thread in Canada, as at least four constitutional challenges to pot laws are currently being heard in courts across the land. In the US, battles continue between the states and the federal government for the fate of medical pot. The reverberations are felt as far away as the Vatican, where Pope John Paul II recently rejected legalization, issuing a declaration late in 2001, calling the marijuana and drug economy “death trafficking.” For cannabis users, it is a slap in the face.
Doesn’t the Pope remember when the Catholic sacrament of alcohol was prohibited in the early 1900’s? Are we still living in the era of the witch hunts, when one’s choice of sacrament or medicine meant facing extinction at the hands of storm troopers with a papal blessing?

Hawaiian spirit shake-down

Reverend Dennis Shields (L) and Reverend Jim Kimmel: founder of the Religion Jesus Church.Reverend Dennis Shields (L) and Reverend Jim Kimmel: founder of the Religion Jesus Church.In Hawaii, Religion of Jesus Church members face continual persecution (CC#29, Medical marijuana ministries). Reverend Jonathan Adler, for example, is fighting two separate sets of cannabis charges. On August 26, 1998, Adler was arrested for cultivation. Then, on December 23, 1999, Reverend Jonathan Adler was arrested again ? for selling cannabis to an undercover cop posing as a church member.

“The first trial came out with a hung jury, and they refiled the charges in the summer of 2001. The facts came out that I was a legitimate reverend of a legitimate church. The compelling interest issue is all that is left. The second case is being held off until the first case is decided because if I win it is moot.”

Adler’s next court date is on January 22, 2002. While he awaits a conclusion to his trial, he has asked the Green Party to endorse him as their candidate for governor of Hawaii.

On November 23, 2001, two more Religion of Jesus members, Kona resident John Robison and his wife Rhonda, were arrested for growing marijuana plants. The Robisons were growing plants so that they could give them away for free to local medical patients in need.

“We were looking to provide legal cannabis to as many afflicted individuals as possible,” said Religion of Jesus Church Reverend Dennis Shields of the Robison’s operation. “It is a mandate of our origin from Jesus to heal the sick in accordance with the will of the father in heaven. We believe that in conducting this raid the vice squad committed a hate crime. John had an alter in his home, a sanctuary sign, and a picture of Jesus. The police tore that down and simply walked all over it.”

The Robisons also use cannabis as medicine: John uses cannabis to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia, and Rhonda uses it to stave off the crippling effects of a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Both have been legally certified by the state as medical users, meaning that they are each allowed seven plants and three ounces of dried cannabis. Although some of their cannabis was legal, the Robisons lost all 141 plants, all of their dried pot and all of their smoking paraphernalia when police ransacked their home.

“They denied me my prescribed medication while they were here. I went into a fit of shock when they came. They sat out here watching me puke and heave, and they wouldn’t let me go in and have a single bong hit. They took all my medicine and my bong and left me with nothing.”

John and Rhonda spent eight hours in prison. It was the second time they had been raided by the police that year. Their first bust was on March 8, 2001 when they were still waiting for their state medical certification. At the time, they had only thirteen seedlings, well within the legal limits for medical users. They are still waiting to hear back from the police regarding charges and a court date.

Despite persecution, the Religion of Jesus’ high profile has made sacramental cannabis a pressing issue for the people of Hawaii. In June 2001, a public hearing with police officials in Hilo resulted in most speakers asking police to leave religious cannabis users alone. While police would not agree to abstain from raiding religious users, they did agree to note on file when those that they are brutalizing with arrest happen to be using marijuana as a part of their religion. But they don’t seem to have lived up to their part of the bargain.

“They were supposed to take my statement about religious use, and write down any proof of it, but they did not,” said John Robison. “I asked them to do it, and they didn’t want to.”

Surely, the great institution of prohibition can only stand so long, when its cornerstone is the poorly constructed lie that medicine is poison and that sacrament is foul.Reverend Dennis Shields (L) and Reverend Jim Kimmel: founder of the Religion Jesus Church.

? Reverend Dennis Shields: tel (808) 328-9794; email [email protected]
? John Robison: email [email protected]
? Reverend Jonathan Adler: tel (808) 982-7640; email [email protected]; web www.medijuana.com