Michigan Judge Wont Allow Religious Marijuana Defense
A federal court in Michigan has ruled that using marijuana for religious purposes is no shield from prosecution.
Reports indicate that Braden James Barnes, a “medicine man” for the Oklevueha Native American Church is being forced into a plea deal after a federal judge refused to accept his “freedom of speech and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects my right to grow weed” defense.
"Defendant's motion should be denied because growing hundreds of marijuana plants is a crime – not a religious practice," one time Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Borgula wrote in documents submitted to the court.
Barnes was busted last year and charged with manufacturing over 50 cannabis plants.
Even if marijuana were completely legal in Michigan, Barnes would not have been allowed to grow 50 plants without a license. Typically, state regulations give citizens the right to grow up to 6 plants for personal use. Caregivers under Michigan’s current medical marijuana program are only permitted to grow up to 12 plants in an enclosed area.
However, Barnes’ attorney argues that, “the Court should extend the religious clause protection to Mr. Barnes' religious practices” because the attitude surrounding marijuana is changing across the nation. Unfortunately, most cases involving weed and religion have not yet been clearly defined.