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Hilo, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
THC Ministry founder and director Roger Christie seems to be doing OK after a recent run in with federal agents at his home and downtown Hilo cannabis sanctuary.
On Thursday, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald broke the news that the well known Hilo landmark had been raided by feds with the assistance of local Hawaii police. According to reporter John Burnett, the Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Muehleck said that no one had yet been arrested or charged in connection with the raid, but Muehleck provided no details.
In the above interview, conducted inside the THC Ministry a few days after the incident, Christie confirms the information, and also confirms that raids were conducted on other Hawaii residents’ homes. The common denominater, Christie said, appeared to be connections to the THC Ministry.
Christie also believes the investigation is geared more towards financial and tax issues than the use of marijuana.
Christie says he sees this as the latest challenge in his quest to fully legitimize the ministry, which provides what its members refer to as the sacrament of cannabis. He believes the United States Constitution protects the religious use of marijuana. The THC Ministry has been in operation for years, and has until now seemed to exist legally in the eyes of state and local authorities. Christie points to his state issued license to officiate wedding ceremonies in Hawaii.
The raid comes as the Hawaii legislature considers allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill, which has already passed through the state Senate, would levy a $30 per ounce tax on medical marijuana, and would bring raise an estimated $50 million per year for the financially ailing state. Other laws being considered by the state would eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession, and allow medical marijuana patients to have more plants and ounces of the herb.
At the same time, a Clear Creek County Court in Colorado convicted a THC Ministry member of a misdemeanor possession of marijuana a few days prior. Christie says Trevor Douglas, the defendant who tried argue that the marijuana was for religious needs, joined the ministry only after his run in with the law. There is a Colorado chapter of the THC Ministry. Christie says he believes the raid and the Colorado court conviction are not related.