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  • ShereeKrider 6:07 pm on September 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alabama, , , , , , Michigan, Oregon, Religious Freedom Restoration Act   

    Marijuana Missionaries: First Cannabis Church Rolls Into Michigan 


    There’s no religious dogma in this church, but these marijuana missionaries are intent in on bringing ostracized stoners back into the fold.

    By Beth Dalbey (Patch Staff) – September 19, 2016 10:05 pm ET

    Marijuana Missionaries: First Cannabis Church Rolls Into Michigan

    Congregants in this church aren’t high on Jesus. In fact, the very name of the church sounds like lyrics from a rock and (ahem) roll song or the backdrop for a classic Cheech and Chong movie.

    It’s true that First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason’s sacrament might be a doobie or marijuana-infused brownie instead of the body and blood of Christ, and its dogma is steeped in giving thanks to the cannabis plant for its healing nature and the sense of well-being it gives users instead of Jesus’ sacrifices for sinners.

    The church, made up of a congregation of mostly atheists and agnostics, made its debut in Lansing, Michigan, earlier this summer.

    So, how can it be a church if its members eschew a higher power — beyond, that is, the feeling of euphoria they get from smoking pot or the satisfaction of using a sustainable crop for fuel and fiber?

    “Well, the reality is it sounded better than a cannabis cult,” organizer Jeremy Hall told the Lansing State Journal after the congregation’s inaugural service last June that included time for fellowship and a potluck with “both medicated and non-medicated food.”

    First Cannabis Church in Indiana

    The First Church of Cannabis traces its roots to Indiana as a political statement in response to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, backed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate.

    Self-anointed Grand Poobah Bill Levin has made all sorts of glib proclamations, including the Deity Dozen, which is sort of like the Ten Commandments— for example, “Do not be a ‘troll’ on the internet, respect others without name calling and being vulgarly aggressive,” and “Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.” Also, don’t be a jerk, or words to that effect.

    There are also marijuana-based churches in Florida, Alabama, Oregon and Arizona. Many of them embrace organized religion to one extent or another, but Hall is more resolute in his iteration.

    At the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason in Michigan, it’s all cannabis, all the time — whether in its leafy tobacco form, as fiber for clothing, as a biofuel or for shelter, paper and plastics.

    It’s a miracle,” Hall told The Detroit News. “It can save humanity. Cannabis is something to be put on a pedestal, to be revered.”

    What’s God Got To Do With It?

    An ordained minister with the online Universal Life Church and a marijuana caregiver who originally hails from Ypsilanti, Hall moved back to Michigan from Tennessee in part because legal medical marijuana is available for treatment of his wife’s lupus.

    He hopes congregants at the Lansing church can change attitudes about pot smokers with service projects around the city, like a recent cleanup at a Lansing park.

    From his early youth indoctrinated in the Young Earth Creationist congregation — a fundamentalist church that rejected evolution and forbade the use of radios because it supposedly played the devil’s music — to his new role as the founder of the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason, Hall has experienced both ends of the religious spectrum.

    Though he rejected many of the tenets of his early teachings and other religions, he told The Detroit News he liked the fellowship aspect of church in general and the way a house of worship can gather in people who live on the margins. So he formed a church, taking God out of the equation.

    Still, Hall’s church embodies the WWJD — “What would Jesus do?” — spirit more than you might think, even though it is not rooted in Christianity.

    On a flyer seeking participants in a recent park cleanup, Hall acknowledged that pot smokers “have been demonized in the eyes of the public as miscreants and law breakers, ignorant and unmotivated.”

    So, just as Jesus reached out to the disenfranchised, the church is a chance for Hall and his wife to reach out to people who have been “using cannabis and feeling ostracized” by their regular places of worship, Michigan Radio reported.

    “We’re using our church to elevate the community and to show we aren’t a drain on society or a bunch of unmotivated criminals,” Hall told the Lansing State Journal.

    Pot City, Michigan?

    Not surprisingly, the church, located in the shadow of four medical marijuana dispensaries, has some detractors.

    The Rejuvenating South Lansing citizens’ group, which wants more restrictions on dispensaries, worries the church further mainstreams marijuana use and will draw more users to the city.

    “This is just another way they can do whatever they want,” Elaine Womboldt, the group’s founder, told The Detroit News. “We don’t want to be known as the pot city of Michigan.”

    Also, at the first service earlier this summer, a lonely protester, Quaker traditionalist Rhonda Fuller, of Lansing, held a sign that warned the only people who benefit from marijuana are profiting financially from it: “It’s about money, not you. It’s misery for everyone else.”

    Fuller told The Detroit News it’s unconscionable to call the First Church of Cannabis a church.

    “Anyone can call anything a church,” she said. “It has nothing to do with Christianity — but neither does most churches.”

    CONTINUE READING…

     
  • ShereeKrider 2:47 am on April 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alabama, , Lee Carroll Brooker, Life without Parole,   

    After Fighting for Freedom, 76-yo Vet Sentenced to Die In Prison for Treating His Illness With Pot 


     

     

    Claire Bernish April 21, 2016

    As public frustration helps sound the death knell for the drug war, its arbitrary laws and policies appear even more absurd. In the latest inexcusable enforcement of an antiquated law, 76-year-old disabled veteran Lee Carroll Brooker will live out what should be his golden years behind bars — for simple possession of cannabis.

    Brooker had been treating multiple chronic conditions with cannabis he grew in his son’s backyard; but when officials in Alabama officials discovered the three dozen plants, they threw him in prison for life — without the possibility of parole.

    Thanks to a pointless mandatory minimum sentencing catchall — and the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear his case this week — Brooker has been left little recourse but to ultimately die in jail for treating his ailments with a plant.

    “Alabama, like three other states, mandates a life without parole sentence for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana by people with certain prior felony convictions — and Mr. Brooker had been convicted of a string of robberies twenty years earlier in Florida, crimes for which he served ten years in prison,” The New York Times explained. “In such a case, the law doesn’t require prosecutors to prove any intent to sell the drug.”

    Essentially, Brooker has been imprisoned twice for the same crime — because he sought relief from nature instead of arguably dangerous, legal and often lethal pharmaceuticals, courtesy of Big Pharma. Worse, Alabama’s already irrational law sets the cutoff in a case like this at 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram), and Brooker’s plants weighed just 2.8 pounds — but that included unusable parts, like stalks and leaves.

    Make no mistake — this is an unjust law, an unjust conviction, and a ridiculous capitulation by the Supreme Court to Alabama’s archaic notion a nonviolent offense should somehow land a vet behind bars for life and separate him from his medicine — as if law were an inflexible monster to be beholden to, no matter its worth.

    In fact, as the Times pointed out, “[W]hile the sentence was mandatory, the prosecutor was not required to bring the precise charges that triggered it. Prosecutorial discretion here, as in most cases, is a central factor in determining what punishment defendants face.”

    In other words, the prosecutor railroaded Brooker over his personal, medicinal plants — by choice. Brooker, who joined the U.S. Army at age 17 and came under fire in both Lebanon and the Dominican Republic, eventually rose to the rank of sergeant in the 82nd Airborne — where he was decorated for infantry service. 

    Vox reported that even “notoriously conservative” Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore characterized Brooker’s sentence as “excessive and unjustified.” And according to the Times, the judge deciding the vet’s fate would have preferred to hand down a lighter sentence, but once the charges had been brought as they were, he was obligated to enforce the letter of the law.

    Yes, this disabled man technically broke the law; but proffering such a rebuttal rings hollow, if not cold, considering the majority of Americans support cannabis legalization. Legality does not dictate morality.

    A growing segment of officials and public figures do, as well, as The Free Thought Project reported recently, more than 1,000 police, world leaders, celebrities, and others signed a letter calling to summarily end the disastrous war on drugs.

    In fact, though little comfort to Brooker now, the Drug Enforcement Agency will likely downgrade cannabis from its inexplicable Schedule 1 classification to Schedule 2 — as early as July of this year. Note that while a plethora of viable arguments can be asserted for rescheduling, considering states with laws like Alabama’s — and cases like Brooker’s — the slight concession by federal law would make a comparative, whopping difference.

    Brooker attempted to bring his case before the highest court in the land as an inarguable violation of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment — to no avail. The court’s stonewall, in itself, could be considered as much — in an increasing number of states, Brooker’s so-called crime would have been perfectly legal.

    For now, though, it appears the 76-year-old will suffer the consequences of bad policy, unjustifiable law, and the cruelty of ostensible authority figures who were all just doing their jobs.

    Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/life-sentence-75-year-old-vet-slightly-plant-allowed-law/#s8Vo4JapilISzggR.99

     
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