Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Federal court denies Native American Church marijuana law exemption


[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] summary judgment issued by a Hawaii federal district court denying an exemption to Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, Inc. [official website] from federal laws prohibiting the possession and distribution of cannabis. The case arose [AP report] from an incident in 2009 involving a member of the church who had his cannabis seized prompting the church to file a complaint under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Controlled Substances Act. The Ninth Circuit stated "even assuming that plaintiffs' use of cannabis constituted an 'exercise of religion,' no rational trier of fact could conclude on the record that a prohibition of cannabis use imposed a 'substantial burden' on plaintiffs' exercise of religion." Since the church failed to prove the required burden, the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court's denial from exemption. The founder of the Church, Michael Rex "Raging Bear" Mooney expressed his disappointment over the decision, and Mooney's attorney, Michael Glenn, stated that the church intends to appeal the ruling.


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