Cannabis Religious Freedom Charter Challenge Update

Here is the latest in my religious cannabis use case against the Canadian Government.

As I’ve reported in earlier blogs, I applied for an exemption to use cannabis for religious purposes to Health Canada with the aid of activist lawyer Kirk Tousaw, and this request was rejected. This rejection opened things up to a judicial review of Health Canada’s rejection, in the Federal Court of Canada.

Earlier stories on the case, including affidavits and other relevant information:

“Cannabis Religious Challenge Update”

“My Religious Freedoms Charter Challenge Interview on The Standard”

“Affidavits from My case against the Federal government and the Crown’s case against the G13”

At this point, we’ve done a deposition on the Crown’s only witness in the case, Jocelyn Kula, who testified in regards to her role in the decision at Health Canada.

Health Canada and the Federal Government’s lawyer performed her deposition on me. Both of these lengthy documents provide some interesting insights into the case. And based on these Kirk and I submitted our argument as to why the exemption should have been granted, and the flaws in the Health Canada decision to reject it.

Jocelyn Kula testimony

Chris Bennett testimony


Now we wait for the Crown’s response to our submission on September 10, which we can respond too,
and then continue on with oral arguments, likely sometime in November.

Sadly, the fight for freedom has a hefty price tag. Special thanks to Vansterdam activist Dana Larsen for kicking down $500 for my case, which has me out of pocket p to $10,500 in costs so far, anyone interested in this case who is wishing to donate can do so via paypal to [email protected], mark as ‘donation’.

Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been researching the historical role of cannabis in the spiritual life of humanity for more than a quarter of a century. He is co-author of Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (1995); Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (2001); and author of Cannabis and the Soma Solution (2010); and Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal herbs and the Occult (2018) . He has also contributed chapters on the the historical role of cannabis in spiritual practices in books such as The Pot Book (2010), Entheogens and the Development of Culture (2013), Seeking the Sacred with Psychoactive Substances (2014), One Toke Closer to God (2017), Cannabis and Spirituality (2016) and Psychedelics Reimagined (1999). Bennett’s research has received international attention from the BBC , Guardian, Sunday Times, Washington Post, Vice and other media sources. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



  1. Servant of the Most High on

    the Acts of Thomas:
    “Having thus prayed over them, the apostle said unto Mygdonia: Unclothe thy sisters. And she took off their clothes and girded them with girdles and brought them: but Iuzanes had first gone before, and they came after him; and the apostle took oil in a cup of silver and spake thus over it: Fruit more beautiful than all other fruits, unto which none other whatsoever may be compared: altogether merciful: fervent with the force of the word: power of the tree which men putting upon them overcome their adversaries: crowner of the conquerors: help and joy of the sick: that didst announce unto men their salvation that showest light to them that are in darkness; whose leaf is bitter, but in thy most sweet fruit thou art fair, that art rough to the sight but soft to the taste; seeming to be weak, but in the greatness of thy strength able to bear the power that beholdeth all things.”

    Chris, worry not. A young, small and despised, white and ruddy chosen prophet from a north country in the west knows the truth of that plant of kindness. (Wisdom of Solomon 8:10, Psalm 119:141, Song of Solomon 5:10, Zechariah 6:8, Isaiah 59:19) It shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break his head. (Psalm 141:5) His far country will bring offerings of qaneh to the God of Israel. (Jeremiah 6:20)

    And now, a detail, that if you decipher it correctly, may cause you to rejoice. Isaiah 30:17 (speaking directly to that prophet, the one who “restores all things” and “turns the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” (Mark 9:12, Malachi 4:6): “One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill”. And there will you see him “leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” (Song of Solomon 2:8).

    “When their judges are overthrown in stony places”, and when “a thousand fall at his side, and a multitude to the south of him,” his words will be heard, for they are sweet. (Psalm 141:6, Psalm 91:7). “For then the blameless man made haste, and stood forth to defend them; and the bringing the shield of his proper ministry, even prayer, and the propitiation of incense, set himself against the wrath, and so brought the calamity to an end, declaring that he was thy servant.” (Wisdom of Solomon 18:21)

    “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)

  2. Chris Bennett on

    That might be an issue if I was a follower of Ceasar’s bible, i.e. The New Testament, a document prepared with a clear polical agenda, but I am not. I am much more of a neo-Gnostic Pagan with strong Shaivite tendencies.
    No more witnesses or new evidence can be brought in at this point, as far as I understand, it will be based on what has been entered already and the testimony from the depositions.
    A catholic priest actually submitted an affidavit agaisnt the Church of the Universe, and his document can be located in one of the links above.

  3. Whimsy on

    Genesis clearly says that the fruit of knowledge was off limits. While the bible doesn’t say for sure, it’s commonly assumed that it’s an apple.

    Anyway, be prepared for a render-unto-Caesar argument. If your religion accepts interpretations of how Jesus was alleged to have done things, remember that Jesus accepted that certain laws of the land were acceptable in the eyes of God. This is why we pay taxes. And you can’t go around stoning people unless they’ve done wrong (unless it’s by consent, I assume. But that’s a whole different kind of stoning).

    My point is that religious arguments can be challenging to make without picking and choosing what works and ditching the rest. The good news is that religion is notorious for doing so. Consider bringing in a Priest or Rabbi in as a witness. Having an established and “acceptable” religion to compare against might be helpful. Several years ago a team of Rabbis in Israel declared Cannabis not kosher for passover (if you’re an ashkenazic jew; otherwise, it is), but the implication is that it would be kosher all other days of the year. That doesn’t change the law of the land, but it makes an interesting point about how a religion’s laws might not coincide with secular laws.

    Good luck on the case!

  4. Anonymous on

    i have now read these as well, you and kirk did very well. i believe it is in the public interest to grant an exemption.
    that is why it is in law. It is laughable that you fit the bill yet they continue to oppose it. the more they asked the more they looked bad.
    going by all this, they might as well admit that any exemption for cannabis use on religious grounds would be rejected.
    they definitely make their own policy that undermines the rules laid out to allow you religious freedom.
    I cant even see how the “public interest” would not be served by granting an exemption.
    policy should concentrate on making sure vulnerables are looked after. right now, you would be vulnerable to attack from another religion/government that does not agree with your choices.
    the words in the 2002 senate report sealed it for me…
    a great show of the hypocrisy.

  5. Chris Bennett on

    Great overview, Canada has tenatively granted an exemption for the potent pyschedlic brew ayahuasca, and we have a medical marijuana plan, so these are strong precedents in our favour. As well Kula’s orignal rejection was based on ‘Public Interest’ not because I failed to describe a ritual where cannabis was used, (This is where Kirk’s analogy with prayer comes in in his arguement) as she tried to portray in the cross examination.

    You should read my testimony as well as kirk’s arguement, lots comes up in there.

  6. Anonymous on

    i have just read J. kulas testimony. kirk found that, there was no doubt in their minds that chris believed that the plant had religious significance, he used seven grams a day and had an epiphany about cannabis being the tree of life..his veracity was not really questioned and KULUS believed his veracity.

    kirk was told by the witness that the reason for rejection was more so for reasons that the use of the substance for bennets religious purposes was not well documented. well except for that chris said he used seven grams and mentioned rays of light/ information that came after consuming. THEY HAD NO REAL OTHER REASONS to decline.

    they had not read chris bennets books, may have found them too hard to find and apparently did not feel it was really neccesary DESPITE them saying they required further detail in the use of the plant for religious purposes…

    ( but KULUS has read a little from his books/works now).

    nor had they sought personal communication to clarify these things further, yet this kind of research of applicants has been done before for another request, but these requests are seen as a case by case basis with no real directive or guide-they did not have an instruction to go by for making determinations under section 56 nor to ask for more information by an applicant if unsure of something or a claim or elaborating on a claim.
    one paper offering ideas was “mused” up previously and attached to one application, but held parts that KULUS did not like ( she mentions this later) i take it as a policy maker. it was not weighed in on because this kind of draft was not made ( stamped) into proper procedure.

    though they should weigh in on whether harms would arise if request was approved.
    they never weighed in on if chris might have his liberty taken by way of penalty for being caught using cannabis.
    they know he was using for years, although they said he was (otherwise) law abiding. kirk got it out that they didnt consider that he would be physcologically affected if he was caught using for religious reasons without an exemption..
    THESE are the kinds of reasons section 56s should be granted and why it is part of the law.

    they did not check to see if chris was vulnerable as in being mentally ill because they had no reason to think this.
    they also had no reason to think that chris would sell the cannabis he might be given exemption for or be involved in the black market nor cause crime to come looking for his supply….
    kirk pointed out that there is a multi million/ billion dollar black market that would not really be effected by an exemption being granted to bennet.

    though this trafficking issue later came up because he was tied to the church of the universe where two individuals had been atleast charged for trafficking.
    they had no reason to think he would drive high or operate heavy machinery, and kirk pointed out that this occurs with other legal drugs.

    now my take on where kirk and chris should take this…

    essentially, canada has a system that does allow granting under section 56 for use of a substance on the CDSA.
    yet it has not resulted in a granted exemption for cannabis, there is something they must balance and weigh in on under law, yet seemingly they balance their decisions the wrong way (against what this section 56 was designed for)

    the potential for granting an exemption is possible, just as the CDSA is written… because of societies desires, it should balance the charter rights, religous freedom/ liberty. this is exactly why this section 56 was written, to accept the charter rights and allow religious freedom.
    just as the government has been made to accept medical cannabis, they will be made to accept cannabis in religion.
    kirk blew a hole right through the process. he showed basically that they approached this incorrectly and were not JUST in their finding.

    canada may be bound globally to certain drug treaties etc, and this was weighed in on apparently YET the thing is, globally they do not recognise cannabis for medicine. YET canada does, and canada therfore MUST be able to grant an exemption despite what other countries think, as they did with medicinal and as they can do with religious cannabis.

    canada may be signed to certain global drug treaties, yet they also are signed in a way that allows deviance from this for medical or religious purposes for example.
    have already have this section 56 law to allow themselves to not contradict global treaties but allow exemption for some instances.

    because canadas people have decided it is in the best interests of society to allow for scientific or medical use and have an exemption system for religious use also.

    this means that the population ( government at time of the construction of these laws and not polls) while deciding cannadas laws, had decided exemptions should be given for religious reasons.
    I cannot see any good reasons why chris bennets application was rejected.
    if anything, if you weigh it up, he should have been given an exemption.

    I once read about some amazon type religious ceremony, the story went into great detail on the use of the drug, how they sat around, how they tripped and found their deity and felt the world around them in a way that could not occur without the sacrement, i think that chris in his application, did go far enough to explain how the plant acted this way for him. it almost seems that the decision requires knowledge of what time of day the person uses it.

    i find this ridiculous. if your reading this chris, i once had a profound and long remembered religious experience with cannabis too.
    i inhaled and sat on a hill at night time, it showed me that the stars and the world and me as one have evolved with cannabis all as part of this opened my mind to this thought.

    i realised that the human mind with cannabis and its receptors in it, has actually steered the evolution of mankind and how we act within and to this world. because people that have used cannabis, have had a guiding natural elemental ( THC) force that has made them do things and think certain things that they would not otherwise think.
    this can lead to actions, that are good for the planet.
    under the influence of cannabis i began coming up with questions about where i would go, so that i would fit naturally into the world and not have a bad negative effect. would i choose a profession that killed trees? for example.. it acted as a basis to ponder my life pathway.

    we should have freedom to allow us to use this plant substance provided to us by the earth to continue to allow makind to fit within earth as opposed to no longer be influenced by its ingredient BECAUSE without cannabis, a sometimes daily sacrement, sometimes yearly, it depends on the individual.. it may be once in their life only..
    without cannabis we as humans might swerve away, as we have been doing since prohibiton, where our ideas have been tried to be antiquated laws, despite the polls.
    tough on crime stances have seemingly taken away our herb of choice when the herb use does not lead a person to crime..

    and under this, humans might ruin the earth and probably mankind itself.
    there may need to be no flood!!!!
    i think that there is actually some truth that in the past, christian religion sepearated into those that used alchohol and those that used cannabis. if the government only allows alchohol to be used, then it is punishing those that choose to align with a religious group that chooses cannabis as its conduit.

  7. Anonymous on

    Salute to the creation of the herbs of the earth…. too bad the demons from hell won’t accept this!

  8. Kell on

    marc , Jody
    please read my comment on belief from marcs #10 letter/blog

  9. Hokulani on

    Absolutely, NO PLANT should be illegal. Genesis 1:29 All herb bearing seeds/plants are for man’s consumption. God did not single out one of them and say. “But stay away from this one, it is of Satan”. No because cannabis is for our use as we please. If cannabis is verboten, then why were not grapes, potatoes, corn, sugar cane, etc illegal during the alcohol prohibition? This argument for cannabis prohibition is so unjust and unconstitutional it is sheer insanity as well as a felony against THE CREATOR AND THE CREATION. The bible tells us over 800 times to “BE JOYFUL IN ALL THAT YOU DO”. Cannabis is the vehicle among other plants and substances that delivers us some fleeting joy in a world that can be quite oppressive. Through the haze of cannabis smoke we see that the CREATOR LOVES HIS CREATION in everyway possible!
    I challenge any religion to prove me otherwise.

  10. Michael Tripper on

    I hope it succeeds, I strongly believe no plant grown on the Earth should be forbidden.

    And yeah I am going to start the church thing out here for sure. Not the Universe one but another that hopefully will bring in more folks from the mainstream.

    Peace out – Toronto, I will be hunting for relief tomorrow. Been a week, 2 days too long 😀

    It may be hard for some of them but I hope everyone out there can at least try and remember I did a few good things, eh.

    Peace out, you are a real, vital activist and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.