Court: Native American church in Hawaii not excused from cannabis laws
(Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
By CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) - A federal court is ruling that a Native American church in Hawaii should not be excused from federal marijuana laws.
The church's leader Michael Rex "Raging Bear" Mooney says in court documents that members receive communion through cannabis.
The Oklevueha (AH'-kluh-vuh) Native American Church of Hawaii filed a complaint in 2009 asking for relief from marijuana laws under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Mooney says they use marijuana during sweat lodge ceremonies to help people regain their relationship with their creator.
A district court ruled against the claim, saying the churched didn't produce enough admissible evidence about its religion other than a strong belief in the benefits of marijuana.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld the district court's decision.
An attorney for the church wasn't immediately available for comment.
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