Nice try, Craig X. Rubin. But the California courts aren’t buying it. Ministers, mail-order or otherwise, are unlikely to merit federal protection for the use of pot as a church sacrament.
Ordained, as were so many of us, as a minister of the Universal Life Church, and thereby licensed to perform legal weddings and, in days gone by, to attempt conscientious objector status in military matters, Rubin was charged with possession with attempt to sell. The leader of the 420 Temple faces up to seven years in prison for dealing.
The 41 year-old Rubin has no legal experience but is representing himself in the case. Not much is known about his court strategy, but a two-pronged defense appeared to be emerging: Rubin will argue that marijuana is the “tree of life” mentioned in the Bible (if not in the movie, “The Fountain,”) and that an officer held a shotgun to his head during the arrest. He is not contesting the allegation of possessing pot, which he said the churches uses as a sacrament during services. He is currently free on $20,000 bail.
Rubin spent last weekend preparing for jury selection by consulting with Native American elders in as sweat lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This may not be as crazy as it sounds, as tribes in the West have accumulated considerable legal expertise in these matters due to the use of peyote in Native American Church rituals.
“He is as good as I’ve seen any defendant representing himself,” said Michael Levinsohn of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
In the event, Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel neatly side-stepped the federal issues at hand, ruling that the Reverent Rubin could not use federal statutes as a defense against state drug charges.
--Glazer, Andrew. “Minister cites religious protection in marijuana defense.” Associated Press Newswire, 07/24/2007