Marijuana Church An ‘Inside Joke,’ Crown Says

The tenets of a Toronto organization seeking a religious exemption to marijuana prohibitions were described by a federal government prosecutor yesterday as a “fictitious artifice” and a ruse by cannabis enthusiasts.

“This is an inside joke among people who like to smoke marijuana,” suggested Crown attorney Nicholas Devlin during cross-examination of a senior member of the Church of the Universe.

“I have heard that,” said Brother Peter Styrsky, who maintained that this was an unfair characterization of the Toronto chapter of the church, known as the G13 Mission.

Mr. Styrsky and Brother Shahrooz Kharaghani are both facing charges of street-level marijuana trafficking, based out of the Mission, which is also a store in east-end Toronto that sells organic goods.

The two men have launched a constitutional challenge to the prohibition against possessing and distributing marijuana, arguing it violates their freedom of religion under the Charter of Rights.

The G13 Mission, which is named after a strain of cannabis, treats marijuana as a sacrament that brings people closer to God.

During a wide-ranging cross-examination of Mr. Styrsky, the flexible aspects of his church were repeatedly critiqued by the Crown.

“You don’t have any rules as to how to use sacrament,” Mr. Devlin suggested.

“We shy away from tobacco. Our only official way is for you to decide,” Mr. Styrsky replied.

The witness agreed that church members are permitted to make

their own choice as to who is their God and it does not have an official position on issues such as abortion.

“I think a woman’s right to choose overrides a religious belief held by someone else. My wife has a different view. But I won’t tell someone what to believe,” Mr. Styrsky said.

The prosecutor also questioned the lack of structure of the G13 Mission, the statements in a declaration that members must sign and grammatical errors in the charter it received from the Hamilton-based founders of the Church of the Universe.

“The purpose of the church is community, it is not to force theology. For Jesus, his church was his people, not a building or an organization,” Mr. Styrsky said.

When asked about the negative effects of marijuana, Mr. Styrsky disagreed with the suggestion. “It definitely gives you a point of view. It enhances your perception,” said the witness, who also cited medical uses for cannabis.

The cross-examination sparked objections from the defence when the Crown suggested there was a financial motivation for Mr. Styrsky to invoke religious grounds to distribute marijuana.

Mr. Devlin noted that Mr. Styrsky owes money to Revenue Canada in unpaid taxes and penalties, from when he owned a small trucking business.

“You wanted to sell marijuana to anyone who had cash money,” Mr. Devlin charged.

“No. We wanted it to go to people who would use it as sacrament,” Mr. Styrsky said.

The Charter challenge before Superior Court Justice Thea Herman is whether there is religious protection for illegal marijuana use and not the specific evidence related to the trafficking charges.

The hearing is scheduled to last four weeks.

– Article from The National Post.



  1. Anonymous on

    You can’t just say that they should say Cannabis is godflesh. That would be a lie unless they actually believe it is godflesh. They already have their own religious beliefs about Cannabis. There is no need to make things up or pretend to be just like some other religion.

  2. Anonymous on

    heard that, man. or lady. i used to be a sheep… until cannabis enlightened me to the truth. this is not a magical world, it is a physical and explainable world of IS and IS NOT’S …

  3. Anonymous on

    Religion IS a sham! but when that court of law’s job is to uphold the laws to the letter, they must bend for “religious” freedoms because freedom from religious persecution is “on the books” of law. What is a real shame is that the court of law makes a victimless act by consenting adults a “crime” so that it can only be legally used if you believe a certain thing or go to a certain church or have certain “approved illnesses”. What’s the deal with that??? there are several examples of the courts ‘bending’ for religious freedoms.

  4. Anonymous on

    My above post was about medical exemption but since this thread is about a religious exemption I will add that you could simply say that in your religion the Cannabis resin is regarded as the flesh of your god. You don’t need any particular reason to think that, just like the Christians have no good reason to equate wine with their god’s blood, other than because they SAY he told them to. Well, anybody else can say that THEIR god told THEM that hash represents his flesh and he wants you to partake of it. You have to take some wine, representing his blood, and mix the resin/flesh into it and then drink it. This is then completely analogous to the Christian sacramental use of wine and bread, but with the bread replaced by hash, and will have to be treated identically under the Charter or the judge will have to admit that he only believes what the Christian god says, even though there is no independent proof that he said anything or even existed, and is therefore biased.

  5. Anonymous on

    Here’s the medical uses of alcohol;

    “Medical Uses and Dosage.—Alcohol is seldom or never used internally, except in dilution. Undiluted, it is a powerful irritant and poison, rapidly causing intoxication, and, if in large quantities, death. It is usually employed in the form of wine, brandy, gin, beer, whiskey, etc., which, in moderate doses, act as diffusible stimulants, and are highly beneficial in prostrating diseases, and in cases where these kinds of stimuli are indicated. Brandy is said to be cordial and stomachic; rum, heating and sudorific; gin and whiskey, diuretic. There are very few cases in which alcoholic stimulants are necessary to be given, and those are seldom of a chronic character, or in which these fluids have to be used longer than a few days. The use of our small doses of concentrated alcoholic preparations, and improved modes of treating diseases, have done much to set aside the dangerous and unscientific practice of indiscriminately prescribing alcoholics. Exceptions to its non-use in chronic disorders, are cases of great debility with feeble digestion, such as the gastric debility of old age, and wasting of tissue, in phthisis. Here, as long as it favors digestion, acts kindly and prevents tissue waste, it is of marked value. If, however, it should occasion unpleasant symptoms, it will aggravate phthisis, a form of which is also known to result from alcoholic excesses. An ounce of brandy or whiskey may be given with milk, egg-nog, broth, or other liquid food; when cod-liver oil agrees with the stomach, alcoholics may be given with it. While in small doses it is a stomach tonic, it should not be employed in ordinary atony of the stomach, which other agents will overcome, on account of the danger of fixing upon the patient the alcoholic habit. Nor should those subject to neuralgic pains make general use of it; and for general, chronic adynamic states it is of less value than other agents.

    Alcohol is mostly employed in acute disorders. Its utility in delirium tremens is well established. It will aggravate cases dependent upon the direct and sudden action of excess of alcoholics upon the gray brain-matter, but when it depends upon failure of the stomach to take and appropriate food, no remedy is more efficient; and opium and other stimulants assist its action. As long as the patient is able to take and retain and digest food, delirium will not occur. As soon, however, as gastric rebellion ensues, the stimulant must be given to allay the irritability and sustain the nervous powers. An ounce of whiskey, alone, or in milk, may be given every hour or two until the stomach will act without its aid. Give no more than enough to sustain the nervous system (Locke). In high fevers and inflammations, in those accustomed to the use of alcoholics, it is dangerous to wholly withdraw the stimulant, and it may be given at intervals in small doses. In acute diseases it is never admissible where there is determination of blood to the brain, or where there is severe, darting headache of a throbbing character, suffusion of the skin and eyes, and noisy or violent delirium. Nor should it be continued in any case where it increases the rapidity of the pulse, elevates temperature, or causes or increases dryness of the tongue. The condition in which it is admissible, is that of prostration, as in low fevers, the pulse being soft and feeble. Small quantities should be frequently repeated. Thus, in typhoid, and other low fevers, where there is a tendency to fainting, with low, muttering delirium, and dry tongue, the patient will die unless stimulation is resorted to, and nothing is better for this purpose than alcohol. Add 1 ounce of brandy to 3 of milk and give frequently, as necessary. If it slows the pulse, rendering it fuller, calms the delirium, tends to moisten the tongue and promote sleep, it is doing good as well as acting as food; if it increases the symptoms, it is doing harm, and should be discontinued.

    In certain forms of vomiting, as of sea-sickness and pregnancy, alcoholics are of service. Give a glass of wine before rising from bed in the morning in the latter complaint. Insomnia and somnambulism, both when due to cerebral anemia, are benefited by alcohol. Refreshing sleep will follow its administration. Hyperemia of the brain contraindicates it. Threatened inflammation of the internal organs from exposure or cold, causing suppression of the functions of the skin, is often averted by a hot toddy and putting the patient to bed. In this manner, threatened pleurisy and pneumonia may be prevented. In the exanthemata, when exhaustion threatens, alcohol may be resorted to. In the collapse of Asiatic cholera, it is called for, and is of value in some cases of traumatic tetanus. Large doses sustain the nervous system while undergoing the effects of serpent and insect bites and stings. It should also be locally applied. Alcohol may be made to act as an external stimulant or refrigerant, by merely applying it to a part, and preventing its evaporation by placing a compress of linen or muslin over it, to produce the first effect; or, by allowing it to evaporate, to produce the latter. With an equal quantity of water, it forms a good dressing for bruises, orchitis, arthritis, and other superficial inflammations. Cracked nipples, should be bathed with brandy and dusted with bismuth subnitrate (Locke). Applied to threatened bed-sores, it hardens the tissues and prevents excoriations. Dr. Christison recommends “a mixture of equal parts of rectified spirit and white of egg as an application to excoriations, from pressure, in fever and other exhausting diseases. It is to be applied frequently with a fine brush or feather, and renewed as it dries, till an albuminous coating is formed over the part.”

    As a dressing to fresh wounds, alcohol, diluted, is of much value; and even in suppurative injuries, it corrects fetor and acts as an antiseptic, as well as to stimulate granulation. Owing to its coagulating power over albuminous material, alcohol is a hemostatic in conditions in which the blood slowly oozes, as from abrasions. Aural polypi and unhealthy granulations of the tympanum, the result of long suppurative processes, are well treated with absolute alcohol. This it does by coagulating albumen and abstracting water, and may cause permanent dryness of the tympanic membrane. Foltz regards it a specific in tympanic cholesteatoma (Dynam. Ther.). The dose of alcoholics (brandy, whiskey, etc.) should not be such as to exceed 1 1/2 fluid ounces of absolute alcohol, except in serpent poisoning, when more may be given.

    Specific Indications and Uses.—Prostration, with soft, feeble pulse, hurried respiration, and irregular heart action; prostration, with dry tongue, low, muttering, or wandering delirium, tremor, subsultus, and insomnia; delirium tremens, when the gastric powers fail. Locally, to cholesteatoma of the tympanic cavity (absolute alcohol).”

    So pretty much the only real use is in cases of prostration. How would you know ahead of time that you were going to become prostrated at some future time so you better get a prescription for it? There WAS no disorder that need a whiskey prescription to treat. Cannabis has far more medical use and far fewer dangerous side effects. The simple fact that doctors haven’t actually used Cannabis in recent times is due to Cannabis tincture being banned by the government. Doctors must have used it before or the companies wouldn’t have been selling it. Both whiskey and Cannabis were used by doctors until they were prohibited. The government simply decided to pretend that Cannabis had never been sold to doctors by numerous pharma companies for many years and used by those doctors for many ailments. Currently ignoring prescriptions for Cannabis while completely honoring them for whiskey during prohibition even though virtually all of them were simply given out so people could get drunk legally is blatantly unfair and arbitrary. Arbitrary laws are unconstitutional, therefore arrests of Cannabis prescription holders is unconstitutional as is the fed’s contention that Cannabis has no medical use. Alcohol was only good in case you became prostrated and they allowed prescriptions for that. Cannabis is good if you have a stroke and want to protect your brain from damage. You need to get a prescription in case that ever happens. just like with alcohol. Never can tell when a stroke might come up. Gotta keep THC in your system at all times just in case.

  6. Adam on

    the thing is, I’ve met Her while using plants, namely Salvia. I could write a book on the experience. Some of the things I saw are coming up in ancient Greek tales, like Actaeon and Diana. I can always deny the existence of a god, until I use certain plants… so why not have a church for plants.

  7. Anonymous on

    No kidding! I recently remembered something I never looked at properly before; the catholics have a habit of building houses for priests on the same property as their churches. The thing is, they often build a tunnel connecting the rear entrances of the buildings. So who is going into the priest’s house from the church without using the front door? This is an old tradition!

  8. Anonymous on

    I was curious about what churches did during prohibition of wine in the US. Here’s the first thing I found;

    “During Prohibition, the wine on Catholic as well as other church altars was real wine. The Eighteenth Amendment, forbidding the manufacture, sale, import or export of intoxicating liquors, was ratified by three quarters of the states January 16, 1919. The Volstead Act also passed in 1919 (over the veto of President Wilson), giving federal agents the power to investigate and prosecute violations of the amendment. But alcoholic beverages for medicinal and sacramental use were exempt under the Volstead Act, which allowed many people to avoid the spirit of the law.

    There were, of course, legitimate, medicinal purposes for whiskey. But doctors reportedly earned an estimated $40 million in 1928 by writing prescriptions for whiskey during Prohibition.”

    So why would it be different for Cannabis, a much less toxic substance? Why would the feds have a problem with prescribing Cannabis when they didn’t have a problem with prescribing whiskey, which to my knowledge has no therapeutic value other than as a topical germicide, for which rubbing alcohol would suffice. This is very clearly a case of unfair discrimination against Cannabis simply for the reason that it is commonly linked to free thinking people, most of whom don’t like the federal government because they are anything BUT free thinking.

  9. Anonymous on

    nothin good comes out of relegion and goverment hocus pocus has no reason

  10. Anonymous on

    You two made some good points there. I guess it comes down to either the government accepts claims such as the COUs or revises the Charter of Rights to remove all reference to religion. Of course, they can’t do that because the Prime Minister himself is a religious savage. Therefore, they will have to grant all such claims as the COUs or be seen as a corrupt justice system, which of course they actually are but they don’t want to admit that.

  11. Anonymous on

    If these people had of used forsight and known what would be asked in court they would have been able to satisfy the courts. what would the crown prosecutor say then? that they formed this church just to sell a drug?
    or take a drug? the thing is that mind altering substances are used in many many religions.
    it is a pursuit of people to have a altered state of conciousness and this can by some be linked to their prayer or findings.

    i say it is only because a drug is involved that this is being tested.
    you do not see religions being tested in court for taking money off people for no return but for membership and a roof over the head on the day.

    one time, i got stoned. righteously stoned. i saw the universe, the stars, the earth and all the things here.
    it had been a long time since i even cared or looked.
    i saw how man had evolved with these plants provided by god, how man used them to help him understand his place in this world and how he then felt after using these plants- to be more a part of the world and be concerned for nature. it stripped me of the rubbish for a while and made me change my ways and made me think about caring more for the mother nature that my god “NATURE” provided me.
    i realised that some men in my heritage had been stoned and the mind and thus mankind had been influenced by a change in thoughts brought on by cannabis. somewhere along the way this made man return to being kind to his surroundings and not wanting to kill it all. i had been drinking for years as a pastime. i had lost track of my caring attitude and empathy for the earth. i now had a new mind altering substance which i would prefer.
    only now, must i face such punishment that i must go back to the person i was before these revelations or write about it and have it forstered in a book and made legal for the times when i feel like exploring what i see around me with a different and religious kind of veiw?

  12. Anonymous on

    laughable that a court will bend for religion?
    are you kidding. religion may well be a sham in many or even all ways. there may be zero godanywhere walking or present but if there is a god in your mind then so be it. this is what is protected.
    there is no need to prove god, only that you have one and follow, actually beleive is more the word i am looking for.
    courts do not prove god does not exist and so ban religion. so what do they determine?????
    if the religion is legitimate in what other ways?
    if you read about the rules, you can see that if things are satifsifed in this case dam straight the court would HAVE to accept it.

    if a religion chooses to use a substance to help it gain understanding or get the mind in a state where it can appreciate or feel or acknowledge a god or whatver then it is actually supposed to be ok and is accounted for in your laws. why? freedom from religious prosecution and freedom to pracise what religion you like.

    god does not walk the land. god is often something people imagine or ponder. it can just be a faith.
    the mind has been throughout centuries been effected by substances that allow a person to imagine outside the norm. and man has been pressured to want to have some faith.
    i could even say most all religions have resulted from not reality of what you see ni front of you but from people being high or being mad or being impressed upon by something or some experience be it second hand or whatever and not that of god being present directly.,

    now a religion can start tomorrow. it does not need a date stamp. that means man, not god can write the book and follow it.

    there is every right for these people to include that their god allows cannabis use so they can be closer to god or whatver.
    if someone had an epiphany under the influence then of course that might be why the religion would wish this to occur.

    i often laugh at religion, and poke holes in it. however i would never wish to deny them the right to believe in it especially if their rules of following do not harm others. and what do you know..
    one of their vows is not to harm yourself of others.

    if they dont succeed this time they have every right to go back and rewrite the book and systems to satisfy the courts next time.

  13. Anonymous on

    Sir/madame, This story is not about anything to do with native Americans, this is to do with Canada and the eastern provinces/Canada as a whole.

    now that that is done, Religion is a massive sham, you go and believe what you want to believe, but you dont get any quarter given to you because you say you believe a certain thing, Religion should not be given a Do what you want pass. It is literally laughable someone would think a court of law would bend because you claim religious freedoms..

  14. Anonymous on

    This case does accomplish one thing, to show how ridiculous all religion really is. You can’t criticize the COU without also criticizing every other religion that likewise worships a “god”. Is it any more sensible that Christians use wine in their services? Doesn’t sound very likely that a god would want people to kill brain cells in order to show reverence for him. You can’t mock their funny hats without also mocking the Jews. So although I personally find their “church” silly, it’s no more silly than the other religions of the world. I don’t believe they will when their case but maybe it will make a few people reconsider their own religion. It’s time to stop acting like the savages of millennia ago. They had an excuse, they had no knowledge of how things really work. What’s the excuse for worshiping gods now? There is none. Now you’re just plain stupid.

  15. Anonymous on

    If the Native American Church can use Peyote in their religious practices legally then why not pot.

  16. Daniel Johnson on

    Recent events indicate that Catholicism is an inside joke for Catholic leaders, but it’s still considered a valid religion. All religions started as scams, lies and inside jokes.