HONOLULU, Hawaii – The founder of Hilo’s THC Ministry who ran afoul of the law has been sentenced in federal court.
After a long incarceration pending a trial on drug charges and tax violations, Roger Christie was sentenced to 60 months in federal detention and four years of supervised release. Christie has already served more than three years and nine months in federal detention, so that means he’ll be released soon, likely to a halfway house. He wrote about it in a recent blog on the Last Marijuana Trial website.
I’m told that I could be released to the halfway house in Honolulu any time after April 28th. After living there for a few months I could be released to home sometime this summer, maybe in time for my 65th birthday on June 15th.Roger Christie
Federal Judge Leslie Kobayashi also sentenced wife Sherryanne Christie to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Christie wrote about his wife’s situation before the sentencing.
Part of her conditional plea agreement is that she gets to stay free at home until all of our appeals are heard in the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco next year, and / or the U.S. Supreme Court after that, if necessary. If and when we win our appeals we get our sentences overturned and we win our case; our cash and stash and our condo in Hilo gets returned to us.Roger Christie
12 others were also prosecuted for taking part in the THC ministry. The bunch is known as the Green 14.
Christie told Big Island Video News back in 2010 that the use of marijuana was part of their religion. But authorities saw it as an illegal operation and the ministry was busted in 2010, following a grand jury indictment.
In September 2013, the couple agreed to a plea deal, after the judge made a pre-trial ruling against allowing a defense based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That would have allowed Christies’ lawyers to base their defense on the use and distribution of marijuana on religious grounds.
Roger Christie pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess 100 or more marijuana plants, as well as two separate counts of failing to file federal income tax returns.
Under the plea deal, Christie will still be able to appeal.
The Christie’s had a lot of support from residents living on Hawaii Island, who were either friends, THC Ministry members, or citizens concerned with Roger’s lengthy jailing before trial. We filmed a Pohoiki event held in support of Christie last year.
There was also a stream of support for Roger in the form of letters to the Judge, which were posted to Facebook.
How can it be that an ordained Minister, Rev. Roger Christie, who openly declared himself as a Cannabis Minister – on his State of Hawaii License,- which granted him the privilege of administering spiritual services, such as performing weddings, counseling, spiritual guidance to those in need, preside over funerals and baptisms, and to anoint and administer cannabis as a Sacrament, be considered a danger to his community?
In 2000, Rev. Roger set up the THC Ministry ~ in broad daylight on the main street of Hilo, in the Moses Building ~ hiding nothing from no one, informing law enforcement agencies, local politicians and others about his actions within his Ministry, ~ how can it be possible that he has spent nearly the past four years in the Honolulu Detention Center, detained like the most hardened criminal?Sarah Zoellick
Please release Rev. Roger and return this good hearted man back to his community, where he has always been an outstanding leader, pro-active in protecting this planet and all her inhabitants. Rev. Roger has served enough time and has continued to touch the lives of many from where he resides. He is such a sincere person, caring and daring to be true to his Belief. I’m sure the HDC has never had such a presence in their prison.
It’s time now to release Roger for time served and please pardon Sherryanne (Share).Gail Ellingson