Norman Hutchinson, 48, is a member of the Religion of Jesus Church who lives in Mexico, Maine. He has filed a lawsuit in the Oxford Courthouse in Paris Maine against the state, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Mexico Police Department to protect his right to use marijuana for religious reasons.
Hutchinson insists that his church requires the use of cannabis based on 12 tenets, including the belief that cannabis “increases ability to feel the presence of God” and “is a good thought-stimulating neuro-hormone.” In his papers, he explains that “sacramental cannabis helps one find and feel that God within.” It also gives you the munchies.
He has claimed the right to use pot under the free exercise of his religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 3 of the Maine Constitution; the Freedom of Religion Restoration Act of 1993; and an assortment of civil rights laws, and common law claims including false imprisonment, trespass, invasion of privacy and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
On their web site, the Church states the following about “the Holy Herb:”
That God is Our Father and that we are all, the entire
human race, one spiritual family that there are as many paths
to God as there are people to walk them
That Cannabis is a Holy Sacrament from times of antiquity
That our main religious text is the Urantia Book
because the Urantia Book is a unifier of the world’s religions
this unifying of religious thought.
This unifier of religious thought allows us to
draw upon the broad scope of human religious experience
in the determination of the form our religious practices take.
We draw upon many religious texts, including the Holy Bible, and
many others to establish and verify our religious practices.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to use controlled substances for religious purposes in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao Do Vegetal. The Court held in favor of a Brazilian-based Christian sect that uses a hallucinogenic tea called hoasca for religious purposes.
However, cannabis use has been routinely rejected by courts as in this case out of Hawaii.
After posting this story, I heard from Carl Olson who has a case raising related issues before the Supreme Court at this link. The Arizona Supreme Court is also reviewing the Hardesty case.
For the full story, click here.