Mexico Man in Paris Sues State of Maine in Oxford Court Over Religious Use of Pot

marijuana-leafNorman 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.

20 thoughts on “Mexico Man in Paris Sues State of Maine in Oxford Court Over Religious Use of Pot”

  1. How weird. My previous posts suddenly appeared. In my U.S. Supreme Court case, Olsen v. Mukasey, No 08-777, I’m arguing that the First Amendment analysis I got in Olsen v. DEA, 878 F.2d 1458 (D.C. Cir. 1989), was nothing but a “rational basis” analysis. Justice Scalia grouped my case with several others in Employement Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), saying none of them got “strict scrutiny” analysis. Under O Centro, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now requires a “strict scrutiny” analysis.

    In my previous posts I made it sound like I was trying to litigate my First Amendment claim again, so the context is that O Centro now requires that my religious claim be analyzed differently than it was in my 1989 case. Of course, the Eighth Circuit says nothing has changed since 1989, Olsen v. Mukasey, 541 F.3d 827 (8th Cir. 2008).

  2. some local flavor…

    http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2005/10/03/1128353087_1725.jpg

    … LYNCHVILLE, Maine — It is as much a part of Maine as Stephen King, lobster, mountains, and moose. Yet it is tucked away on a small town corner. For out-of-towners who see it, it might as well be a stop sign because stop they do.
    more stories like this

    They stand before it and think about Scandinavia, Central America, the Orient, or Europe. The sign points to Poland, Paris, Naples, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Mexico, Peru, and China.

    All those places are towns in Maine…’

  3. Got to side with Carl on this one, mespo. Let’s not forget the plethora of historical sects who not only condoned licentiousness but actually incorporated it into their rites and practices. Do I really have to say more than the word “Bacchanalia”?

  4. Mespo72

    If licentiousness were a problem, most religions would fail to meet the test. When you consider the problems accepted churches are having with pedophile priests and the fact that their alcohol sacrament is one of the most dangerous drugs known to humanity, licentiousness does not seem to be an impediment.

  5. Buddha…
    Doesn’t the saying go

    “I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for dinner” ?

    🙂

  6. And more on topic I’d like to say this:

    In a troubled economy, what makes more sense than reducing prison and prosecution spending while increasing tax revenues from a base that has the potential to rival not only the tax income lost to prison “industry” (a self-perpetuating farce in itself that does nothing to treat any heath issues but everything to create more, dangerous criminals from basically non-violent offenders) but could possibly dwarf the tax income from alcohol and tobacco COMBINED. Because unlike booze and smokes, marijuana has CHEAP GREEN INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS THAT REPLACE PETROCHEMICALS. That’s in addition to having MEDICINAL UTILITY. It’s a naturally renewable resource that you can usually cull multiple crops from within a single growing season in most North American regions. It cleans carbon from the air like all good plants do. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Like the man say,

    LEGALIZE IT. Don’t criticize it.

    ‘Nuff said.

  7. mespo,

    As a Southerner, I don’t care what you call me as long as you call me for dinner, but if “rational” is included I’ll consider it a plus. 😀

  8. Well said Buddha. I am of the opinion that the practice of law is a Noble cause. Just because there as some bad attorneys does not make the cause a noble one. Just because some in the priesthood abuse children does not make the entire priesthood a sinful lot. As to lobbyists, I would prefer that lobbysists be herded up into the so-called free speech zones and they exercise their free speech the same way ours has been trampled on. Have a great Sunday.

  9. Carl Olson:

    Ok you’ve got me there! I’m now considering Baal worship or starting my own own cult of the blog god Turleetequil!

  10. Let’s be clear.

    The study of law is of intrinsic value. It COULD be a noble calling. The reality is that it attracts the venal, amoral, unethical people because of the money involved. That’s how you end up with lobbyists and career politicians. By in large I hate the legal profession. It attracts shitty people. That’s why I quit.

    However, if you want to see the system REALLY go to Hell, remove contingent fees from the playing field. This HELPS Neocon fascists by removing access to the system for the poor. Contingent fees are ESSENTIAL. The 50% that some states allows is ridiculous, but that’s an ancillary issue. The key is access to the system. What’s obscene is attorneys charging $700-$1000 (or more) per hour. When people charge that much for their time, and payment of some sort is usually required for a novice to access the system, it creates bias against the majority of citizens who simply cannot afford to pay that much to bury the system in paper. That’s abusive of the system. And no one’s time is worth that much money. NO ONE. Not you, not me, not JT, not Jesus, not the Prez, NO ONE. If you could learn to fart diamonds your time wouldn’t be worth $1000/hr. Especially if you know that 90% of the time, it’s a low paid grunt doing the actual research and usually the drafting work. I won’t even go into billing practices (psst, double and triple billing happens ALL THE TIME). It also illustrates why free markets are not the solution for everything by illustrating the oppression free markets create when applied to essential services like law (or medicine or power or water & food safety, the list isn’t that long). If you want systems to work properly, excessive profit taking and artificial inflation cannot be allowed to affect fundamental systems required for survival. Free markets are fine for shoes, however, they are a shit model for some products and services. Like water or penicillin or a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Those things REQUIRED by the common good. Face the economic modeling facts: pure capitalism works just as poorly if not worse than pure communism – I guess that makes the socialists at least partially correct. And look into how well doctors live under the British socialized medical system and tell me you can’t make a living if they regulated legal markets. I may call you delusional and possibly a liar. I’ll call you greedy for certain.

    You want to be upset about the way money distorts the system, you go right ahead – I’m with you there, but know what the Hell you’re talking about first. Contingent fees are almost the only thing keeping “justice” in the the justice system. Otherwise only the wealthy and corporations would have access. It’s practically that way NOW because of lobbyists and the deregulating fascists that hide in the BOTH parties protecting corporations over natural human citizens. Although the majority of the “free markets have wisdom” morons are GOP, it’s just code for “I’m a greedy bastard” and those can be found in either party. It’s not a partisan issue ultimately. It all goes back to tools and their usage. And an economic structure is a built tool just as much as a hammer is, I assure you. That’s also why lobby for cash needs to go IN TOTO. Not limited access, but REMOVED. Money corrupts. Where the money meets the graft road is lobbyists, plain and simple. Where ALL our malfunctions in government is directly and causally connected to lobbyist corruption. You want to kill a disease, kill the root cause. You want to change for the better, change big. Removing paid lobbyists would improve the quality of EVERYTHING, but removing contingent fees is another nail in the coffin for the right to petition and the rights for a fair trial.

  11. Maybe the name of your church, “Church of Our Redeemer of Licentiousness”, is causing a negative reaction. Try changing it to Catholic Church or something less repugnant.

  12. Dear Professor Turley,

    If you will notice, my case, Olsen v. DEA, 878 F.2d 1458 (D.C. Cir. 1989), is cited to reject religious freedom in State v. Sunderland, 115 Haw. 396, 168 P.3d 526 (Haw. 2007), reconsideration denied, 116 Haw. 2, 169 P.3d 685 (Haw. 2007).

    The Supreme Court of Arizona has recently granted certiorari in another case citing Olsen v. DEA rejecting religious freedom, State v. Hardesty, 535 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 3 (2008), Arizona Supreme Court No. CR-08-0244-PR. Hardesty is arguing the First Amendment and the Arizona Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    My newest case was docketed in the U.S. Supreme Court on December 17, 2008, Olsen v. Mukasey, No. 08-777. I’m arguing the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act overturn the decision in Olsen v. DEA.

    Sincerely,
    Carl Olsen
    Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church
    130 E Aurora Ave
    Des Moines, IA 50313-3654
    515-288-5798
    http://www.ethiopianzioncopticchurch.org/

  13. Good luck to Carl, but most courts won’t even light a candle (or anything else) at the altar of the Church of Our Redeemer of Licentiousness.

  14. Oh, that we could all be as righteous as you, but, alas,….

    In fact, it is quite the uniquely American way to have the courts availabile for any person regardless of income, social stature or validity of one’s cause to seek redress for wrongs done whether real or imagined. Such cases, verdicts and awards are not decided by the attorneys who represent either side of an issue, but by juries of peers. In contingency cases attornies’ fees are contingent on an award of damages, the law firm bears the financial risk and pays the up-front expenses of staff time, filings, depositions, any travel, etc., this makes capping attorney fees ludicrous. That said, the case above seems to involve an interpretation of an individual’s religious rights and has no monetary component.

  15. The screwed up world that twisted screwed up attorneys willing to file any case no matter what for 50% of the loot have given us, eh? The legal profession now ranks lower in esteem than used car sales.

    I can be assured that a handful of people here will come screaming “wait until you need an attorney”. My good people, I personally have had now fewer than 4 incidents in my life where someone more selfish than I would have employed attorneys in an attempt to collect loot for so called injuries.

    Two of them involved deaths of loved ones, one involved physical injuries to me by a professional, and one other that comes to immediate mind involves a family friend that said some libelous things.

    I never sued. I don’t need to sue, that is NOT what America is about.

    Turley and the other bloodsucker attorneys should be required to be paid an hourly rate not to exceed 15% of any “winnings” they collect in a court of law or in a negotiated settlement.

  16. Dear Professor Turley,

    Your link to the Hawaii case is going to O Centro. I imagine you were trying to link to State v. Sunderland, 115 Haw. 396, 168 P.3d 526 (Haw. 2007), reconsideration denied, 116 Haw. 2, 169 P.3d 685 (Haw. 2007).

    The Supreme Court of Arizona has recently granted certiorari in State v. Hardesty, 535 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 3 (2008), Arizona Supreme Court No. CR-08-0244-PR. Hardesty is arguing the First Amendment and the Arizona Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    My case was docketed in the U.S. Supreme Court on December 17, 2008, Olsen v. Mukasey, No. 08-777. I’m arguing the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    Sincerely,
    Carl Olsen
    Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church
    130 E Aurora Ave
    Des Moines, IA 50313-3654
    515-288-5798
    http://www.ethiopianzioncopticchurch.org/

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