Church Leader Defends Marijuana Use

Church Leader Defends Marijuana Use
Posted by CN Staff on June 09, 2003 at 07:21:25 PT
By Jamie Swift, Journal Reporter
Source: King County Journal 
Auburn -- There's a church here that provides marijuana to members of its congregation for physical and spiritual healing. At least there was until police raided it a little more than a week ago. More than 200 plants were confiscated, along with all the church's lamps and other equipment for growing marijuana. The Reverend Lee Phillips is not pleased. He said the government has no right to ``steal from the church'' and ``defile our temple.'' 
The church is a one-story house at 2711 N St. S.E., where Phillips lives with his wife of two years, Lori Phillips.Lori, 45, has a doctor's note to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, which has been legal in Washington since 1998. Lee is ``mandated'' by the Religion of Jesus Church to grow, smoke and share cannabis with people in need of physical or spiritual healing, he said.Phillips, 52, has helped heal ``hundreds'' of people at his home-based church the past four years, he said. Some are hurting physically, others emotionally and spiritually.``It takes some of the pain away,'' Phillips said. ``God doesn't want any of us to hurt.'' Phillips says the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team had no right to raid his south Auburn home, confiscate his plants and marijuana-growing equipment and take his wife to jail for the night.By doing so, Phillips said, police have forced Lori to suffer and infringed on the couple's Constitutional right to freedom of religion.``This house is a church,'' Phillips said last week, sitting in the one-car garage of his south Auburn rambler. ``In this building we heal, we counsel, we hold church. People come to us for what we offer them.``I have no choice as a reverend of this church but to use cannabis and share it with those who need it.''According to the Religion of Jesus Christ bylaws, which can be found on the Internet: ``Because Cannabis brings us closer to God and our Heavenly Father closer to us, it helps us to achieve greater growth of our soul. Cannabis is and always will be a spiritual aid -- this fact is proven over and over again throughout history.''``The government can't tell you how to practice your religion unless they have a compelling state interest,'' Phillips said. ``I don't see how we're bothering anybody.``The use of the sacramental medicine is done only in the confines of the church -- never in public view.''The couple's church is registered with the state as a nonprofit organization called The Center for Healing and Spiritual Renewal.Detective. Jim Miller, who led the VNET investigation of the Phillips couple, said his team was not aware when they raided the home that Lori Phillips had a doctor's note to use marijuana to ease symptoms of her condition, Hepatitis C. Miller also didn't know Lee Phillips is registered in Hawaii as an ordained cannabis sacrament minister and is a reverend in the Religion of Jesus Church, founded in Hawaii more than 40 years ago. Miller knows now, but he still thinks VNET was right in busting the couple for producing such large quantities of pot.``She may have permission from a doctor,'' Miller said, ``but she doesn't have permission to have over 200 plants.''And as for the issue of Lee Phillips' religious duty to share what is called the ``Holy herb'' in his faith, that will likely be settled in the courts. Maybe even the U.S. Supreme Court.First, the couple must be charged with a crime. Miller said the investigation could take up to three more months. Criminal charges could include possession and distribution of narcotics, plus potential money laundering charges.Phillips, whose employment consists of being leader of his church, said the many people who seek healing at his church are not asked to pay for their marijuana. He declined to reveal how much money his church receives in donations from its members but he did say it's enough to provide for his family and to assist church members with paying their bills or buying food.Miller said what the couple is doing is ``the same as selling dope. Having 200 plants is tantamount to marijuana for sale.'' The street value of those plants is between $200,000 and $400,000.The marijuana is not used to make money, the Phillipses insist. Lee Phillips said he was insulted that the narcotics officers broke down his front door and tore apart his church ``like it's some kind of crack house.''Lori Phillips said the officers could have approached her or her husband in a less aggressive way and either would have willingly invited them inside the house and showed them Lori's doctor's note to use marijuana for Hepatitis C, a chronic disease that slowly damages the liver, often causing liver cancer.``My joints ache all the time,'' she said.Lori was the only one home during the raid. She was handcuffed and taken to the Kent City Jail, where she stayed overnight. Lee turned himself in.This wasn't Lee Phillips' first marijuana arrest. Most recently, he was arrested in Auburn during a traffic stop for possession. The charge was dropped, he said, after he explained that the marijuana was medication for his wife.The couple is represented by Seattle attorney Jeff Steinborn, who has a Web site at --``These are not just druggies growing pot and selling it to children,'' said Steinborn, adding that he sees validity in the couple's religion.``In many respects, I feel the same way,'' he said. ``Throughout religion, mystical experiences have been altered states of consciousness brought on by the use of some substance.``These folks aren't just nutcases.''Said Phillips: ``I don't want the public to this we're some crack house on the corner. Inside this house, we're doing some good work.``I'm not just a guy who's into weed and hiding behind religion.''Source: King County Journal (WA)Author: Jamie Swift, Journal ReporterPublished: June 09, 2003Copyright: 2003 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.Website: letterstoeditor Related Articles & Web Site:Religion of Jesus Church Used Cannabis Oil, Writer Says Used Cannabis To Heal Ailments Linked To Biblical Healing
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Comment #17 posted by paulpeterson on June 11, 2003 at 10:50:06 PT
The "Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993" gives protection for religious practice from unreasonable interference. Two cases in the 9th Circuit (west coast) have given such rights. Reverend Jon Adler is correct, in his Hawaii case (under state law, that is) religious "sacramental" rights were supported, but he was vilified for his distribution of the sacrament, etc.Then there is the 10th Curcuit case involving DMT imported from Brazil for sacrament. Last summer a judge told the customs people to give them back their cup of tea, and to establish guidelines to avoid diversion, etc.The RFRA was declared unconstitutional as applied to state law action. That means that to be accorded "sacramental rights" under state law, there must be a real "discrimination" ie: there is an "exemption" for some other purpose, like MM, then they must also allow religious exemption. Washington is such a state, of course. It is swell that Lori had a MM exemption, which gives double protection here. The bottom line, of course, is that these people must be able to show that they have valid "guidelines" to prevent the "diversion" of material for "illegal" usage (ie: not medical or spiritual). It sounds like they can offer good evidence of such guidelines and have a good chance of prevailing.Let's just hope they sue in Federal District Court for injunctive relief. The GOONS that took them out sound like there was DEA involvement, which triggers federal jurisdiction?I've got a lawsuit filed in Chicago against the DEA & DOJ, asking for declaratory judgement that the law is good in the 7th Circuit.GOD SPEED TO REVEREND LEE PHILLIPS & CONGREGATION INTO THIS FRAY.oVER aND oUT.
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Comment #16 posted by Rev Jonathan Adler on June 10, 2003 at 16:19:27 PT:
Ok, Now my Turn....
Aloha and God Bless Lee and Lori Phillips. As they sat here in my office last year, we discussed the Religion of Jesus Church's fundamentals and legal status. Never was there any mention of them going back to the mainland to set up a growing and distribution facility under the alleged involvement of our Church.They have rights as members of the church to use the sacrament, not to have a means of 200 plants for distribution. I support their religious freedom, yet wonder why our concept is being replicated without authority, while using our church's sacred name. I was never asked about our opinion. It would have been to establish a legal channel appropriately. I did, by the way "win" my legal challenge. The Judge DID acknowledge our legitimacy, sincerity and mandate to use cannabis for spiritual purpose. Also, (NOT REPORTED ACCURATELY), the Judge's written findings said that our church did indeed have religious rights to consume our holy sacrament. I was put in jail, most probably, because I am vocal, truthful, informed and legal. I was also a candidate on the ballot for Governor at that same time. Does the term Political Prisoner fit? How about "religious persecution"? Selective Prosecution? Prosecutorial Misconduct? Judicial Criminality? If the shoe fits, wear it! I am free and clear about my future. Peace to all. To : Lee and Lori, God Bless. Rev. Jonathan Adler / Elder Minister of the Religion of Jesus Church ( East HawaiiBranch, Licensed since March 20, 1974 with the State of Hawaii. #A-2355 (No made up religion here.) 
Hawaiiu Medical Marijuana Institute
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Comment #15 posted by afterburner on June 10, 2003 at 15:07:17 PT:
2 More Cents.
"The pursuit of material things is ultimately pointless if one loses the things that are of value to the human spirit." -The Outer Limits 'Alien Shop'
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Comment #14 posted by The GCW on June 10, 2003 at 03:06:23 PT
John Tyler 
You have something there.You are sharing it.Glory to You.Keep sharing it and We will take it to the imit.It is time.The Green Collar Worker
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Comment #13 posted by John Tyler on June 09, 2003 at 22:02:05 PT
The truth
This is so great, all of you know the truth! You can not know the spirit by reading church rules and dogma, you can only know the spirit by a direct encounter with the spirit. Merge with the universe once, realize that you are already one with god, and you will be changed. I enjoy reading all of your comments.
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Comment #12 posted by freedom fighter on June 09, 2003 at 20:25:55 PT
The Trip??
What a trip! "cult" film? 1960? I was but just a newborn. How old were Jack, Dennis and Peter when they made that film? I ask these questions because I am curious as to the orgin of the "gateway" theory.Is that it??? a 1960 film?pazff
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on June 09, 2003 at 17:18:23 PT
My 2 Cents
Without a vision the people perish. Religion is sterile and dogmatic. You spend most of your time sorting thru the church's laws to figure out what you can't do.Being spiritual is different. Church doctrine falls away and what is important is easier seen. I can't help but believe that cannabis can help a person become more spiritual. The plant wasn't created by a man.
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Comment #10 posted by The GCW on June 09, 2003 at 17:11:23 PT
JSM & SoberStoner got bulls-eyes.
Both of YOur words reflect Mine. It is like many others that say the same things. It is the same thing that has been said for thousands of years. Cannabis carries itself as the tree of life. And one of the properties of the tree of life is that its full effects are not available to those who do not believe.Roger & Jonathan has said You have better protection against the prohibitionists from caging You, when using cannabis as a minister, rather than using cannabis as medicine.Now here is a couple using cannabis as sacrament, (WHICH IS REAL) with a back up of medicinal use and there is mention of the Supremes.I would like to see this issue hit the Supremes, and come out enabling Me to use cannabis at My alter, with out risk of being caged.
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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on June 09, 2003 at 17:01:45 PT:
Ironic: The Trip Was Made, LSD Became Illegal 1967
Apparently, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is ahead of Great Britain. I saw The Trip there back in the 1970's. Some good period humor, like the lady saying, "How can he stand those people" about the San Francisco minister and his long-haired flock as the stained glass in the background shows holy saints who also wore long hair.Apparently, Canada is also ahead of Great Britain as The Trip has been shown on pay-tv.ego transcendence follows ego destruction when the US Constitution is once again honored by the US Government and the First Amendment Freedom of Religion is again restored.
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Comment #8 posted by SoberStoner on June 09, 2003 at 16:59:00 PT
Q: How much would those plants be worth...
..if they weren't illegal?A: About as much as the dirt they were growing in.As some of you may already know, I am an ordained minister with the ULC, and I have devoted my church to the beliefs that cannabis and free thought are the two greatest gifts our creator has given us.There are numerous churches being set up with cannabis as our holy sacrament and our connection to the world around us. I was hoping that Rev. Adler's challenge would be upheld, but sadly it was not to be. Make no mistake, the laws of cannabis prohibition are unconstitutional in many ways, and the courts have almost always ruled in favor of religious freedom. If we can ever get a hearing in front of them, I would be very surprised to see them rule against religion. If you are not a member of a church, or dissatisfied with your current church, I would advise that you check out some of the cannabis based religions, most are very moderate in their beliefs and almost all will accept anyone who wishes to join. I never thought I would be a religious man, as I grew up with a very (sadly typical) hypocritical religious family. They seemed to believe that because they sat in an uncomfortable bench for two hours a week, they could be as spiteful as possible the rest of the week. But then I discovered the path of truth with cannabis as my guide. I am still on my path of discovery, and I hope that it never ends, as the moment we stop learning is the moment we stop living. I dont claim to know everything. I dont even claim to know I am right. However, I can say with certainty that I would not be the man that I am today without the spiritual freedom that cannabis has enabled me to have. This is not a joke, and while we may be potheads, or stoners, or whatever derogatory titles you want to affix to myself and others who have similar beliefs, we are comfortable with our choices and we will defend them as vigorously as you defend yours. The freedom of religion was one of the most important guarantees Americans were given, and until I am free to practice my religion without worrying about being caged for it, I will fight cannabis prohibition to the best of my ability, the best ways that I know how.Peace and Love,SS
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on June 09, 2003 at 15:58:27 PT
freedom fighter
I checked the link both times when I posted it and in the preview screen it worked but it's not working since I confirmed the post. I don't know why though.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on June 09, 2003 at 15:53:05 PT
freedom fighter 
'Failed War on Drugs' Spurs Presidential Bid O.C. judge wants to carry Libertarian Party banner and seek decriminalization. Saturday, June 7, 2003 
 The epiphany was trigged by a young thug's war whoop, a triumphant "yee-ha!" as he was led away in handcuffs for a short stint in jail.  
The punk was 17. Dangerous. Mixed up in drugs, with a nasty habit of robbing prostitutes and roughing them up. Judge James P. Gray was sitting on the Municipal Court bench back then, enforcing a plea bargain that was worked out up the food chain, in Superior Court. The kid would be behind bars for a few weeks. It was nothing. "He had gotten away with it, and he knew it," Gray says. "It was wrong."Gray got angry. Day after day, the same low-level drug offenders shuffled in and out of his court room. So much money spent on processing them, warehousing them, setting them free and then arresting them again. It wasn't helping anyone, he thought. And it cost so much that there wasn't anything left to really hold the bad ones accountable. The judge had been a lifelong Republican. A federal prosecutor who sent drug dealers to the slammer. But on a balmy April day 11 years ago, Gray stood on the courthouse steps and made a startling declaration: America has lost the war on drugs. It's time for a new plan of attack: decriminalization.This invoked a firestorm in Orange County. The sheriff vowed to run him out of office. People wondered what he was smoking. Many of his colleagues disapproved. But Gray remained steadfast in his conviction that the war on drugs is an abysmal failure and is now taking his crusade national.In February, the lifelong Republican quit the party, re-registered as a Libertarian and is exploring a run for president or Senate. He has spent the past three months traveling across the country - New York, Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida - and has emerged as a leading contender for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination in 2004.He could be Orange County's first presidential contender since Richard Nixon.Gray holds no illusions that he will ever sit behind a desk in the Oval Office. He just wants to legitimize debate about the drug war, focus a national audience on the issue, and force the major parties to deal with it."I want the Libertarian Party to make repealing drug prohibition the centerpiece of every state and federal campaign around the country," Gray said. "The bugaboo of all third parties is that so many people agree with their positions, but when it comes time to vote, people don't want to feel like they're throwing their votes away, and they go with the lesser of two evils."But if every vote for the Libertarian Party is seen as a vote for change, a vote against drug prohibition, we could win with 10 percent."If I can help my country turn away from this hopeless war on drugs, it would be the largest and most lasting gift I could give."Snipped:Complete Article:žion=LOCAL&subsection=LOCAL&year=2003&month=6&day=7
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Comment #5 posted by freedom fighter on June 09, 2003 at 15:43:48 PT
I could'nt get to the article, but I did check out Judge Gray's site and it turned out that he is running as a libertian candiate. I did'nt know what's up but that's cool...pazff
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Comment #4 posted by JSM on June 09, 2003 at 13:51:19 PT
Cannabis and Spirituality
While there are many reasons why cannabis was prohibited and still remains illegal, in the final analysis the fear of what cannabis does for our spirituality obviously frightens not only the fundamentalists in our culture but also those with more main stream beliefs. The establised churches hate anything that might be competitive with their theology and cannabis directly challenges all religions with the fundamental truth that each and every one of us can and should have the experience of our individual spirituality. Cannabis opens doors of understanding and spiritual realization and that is virtually impossible in any other manner  For that alone, it is hated and feared. Cannabis is God's gift to help us awake from our long slumber and reach our real purpose in this world of pain and suffering. Its use really is a sacrament and it is obscene for our government to deny this right and ignore the 1st amendment of the constitution. 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 09, 2003 at 10:28:13 PT
Just A Note
Hi Everyone,I'm still looking for news but haven't found anything that I feel I should post. June has been the slowest month of the year. Hopefully we will get some important news again soon. 
What's New 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 09, 2003 at 09:26:04 PT
News Article from Snipped Source
'Failed War on Drugs' Spurs Presidential Bidžion=LOCAL&subsection=LOCAL&year=2003&month=6&day=7
Judge James Gray
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 09, 2003 at 07:33:01 PT
News Brief from Reuters
UK Film Censors Say It OK to Take a Trip NowMonday, June 9, 2003LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's film censors Monday finally gave the go-ahead after three decades to "The Trip," a 1960s cult film about drugs written by Jack Nicholson. Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper , the film was originally refused a ratings certificate because of its graphic depiction of drug use. But the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) now feels that the film merits an 18-certificate because audiences would no longer be convinced by the characters as they embarked on an LSD trip. "The board concluded that its portrayal of the hallucinogenic experience was unlikely to convince a modern viewer and took account also of the film's depiction of the downside as well as the pleasure of drug use." The movie, made two years before Fonda and Hopper starred in the 1969 cult classic "Easy Rider," cast Fonda as a TV commercial director who moved from marijuana to experimenting with LSD.
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