US appeals court upholds Hawaii pot ministry convictions

US appeals court upholds Hawaii pot ministry convictions

HONOLULU (AP) - A federal appeals court is upholding the convictions of two Hawaii Cannabis Ministry leaders found guilty of having 300 pot plants as part of a distribution ring.

Roger Christie and his wife Sherryanne Christie appealed their convictions on religious grounds, saying their ministry used marijuana as a sacrament.

Tuesday's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the federal government had a compelling interest in preventing marijuana from being diverted to non-members and being provided to minors.

The ruling noted the government may force a religious objector to comply with the law if doing so furthers a compelling government interest and there isn't a less restrictive way to accomplish that goal.

Attorneys for the Christies didn't immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

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