Oral arguments held in Hilo pot minister case

Published: Jul. 30, 2013 at 12:42 PM HST
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Roger Christie
Roger Christie

HONOLULU (AP) - A federal judge is expected to make a preliminary ruling on an issue related to using the religious freedom defense for the founder of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry.

Roger Christie's attorney wants to raise the defense that he should be acquitted of marijuana trafficking charges under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The judge heard oral arguments Monday from attorneys about whether it should be up to a jury or a judge to determine if that defense can be used.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara argues the issue should be determined by a judge.

Kawahara says Judge Leslie Kobayashi indicated she will have a ruling by Wednesday.

Christie has been detained without bail since July 2010. He was 1 of 14 indicted.

The Hilo ministry is now defunct.

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