Legal trouble for 48 year-old Robert George Henry of Fannettsburg began in October when he was pulled over in Cumberland County.
Court documents show police found bags of marijuana, rolling papers, cash, and a plant that seemed to be recently pulled from the ground.
He’s charged with driving under the influence and possession, but Henry says the case should be thrown out.
Because he’s a member of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry.
Henry’s attorney, George Marros, says, “Our position is if you’re part of this particular religion, you’re able to use marijuana for personal use, same thing Catholics would use wine for their sacraments.”
Cumberland County’s District Attorney, Dave Freed, calls the defense a novel one.
“My estimation is that is takes a certain amount of chutzpah to file something like this,” Freed says.
The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry is an organization that claims to celebrate “the constitutional right to practice cannabis spirituality”.
It also claims on its website that ordering a $250 “Sanctuary Kit” will protect your use of cannabis sacrament in any of the 50 United States and elsewhere throughout the world.
Freed isn’t so convinced.
“I’m not familiar with any cases, and we’ve done some research, allowing use of marijuana for religious purposes,” he says.
Henry’s attorney admits the defense is a new one, but maintains his client’s religious beliefs – no matter what they are – should be protected.
“We’re not allocating full-blown marijuana use that you can go on the street corner and sell marijuana to anybody. It’s for personal use, per your religion and that’s what we’re limiting our position and our argument to.”
The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry also advises followers to keep a copy of their ministry identification card on them at all times.
There’s no mention in court documents that Henry told officers the drugs were part of his religious beliefs.
In fact, there is question as to when Henry joined this religious group – his attorney wouldn’t say if it was before or after this arrest.
The motion to dismiss these charges will be heard in court next month.
As reported in: whtm.com/news