Drug Law

NORML Waste: Kicks Roger Christie While Down

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NORML's most public representatives have decided to launch a public attack in High Times magazine and on NORML's website against an imprisoned activist who sits in federal custody and is being wrongfully denied bail for a small amount of marijuana.

It is dismaying that NORML would choose to focus limited time and resources denigrating its own community and creating schisms instead of building a viable coalition for political change. In picking this ill conceived public battle, NORML has chosen to kick a long-time activist, who happens to be a very good man, while he is down.

Roger Christie is being held without bail since July 8, 2010 by the federal government in Hawaii for his advocacy for cannabis and its religious use. He is the founder of the THC Ministry, which uses cannabis as a sacrament.

Roger is a 61 year old man who has never been convicted of any crime before, and now the government has charged him with manufacturing and distributing cannabis to his church members, with no weapons, minors nor violence involved. The federal government claims that this makes him a danger to the community. Roger is one of 14 co-defendants, the Green 14, charged with selling marijuana and arrested with about 2 pounds of cannabis. The feds are holding Roger without bail until his trial in a year. It is amazing how much money and time they put into prosecuting Roger, a 61 year old, first time, non-violent cannabis activist.

The federal government tapped 17,000 phone calls, created and have printed 30,000 pages of transcripts, then they used a military jumbo-jet/C-130 to haul 14 people and dozens of police agents the 300 miles from Hilo to Honolulu. The federal government is doing this because Roger is very public. Roger helped organized and get a county/Big Island of Hawaii law passed making marijuana the lowest priority of the Big Island. Roger helped get the Big Island municipal government to reject federal funding for Operation Green Harvest, a 24 year old federal pork project to fly helicopters at low altitude around Hawaii searching for cannabis. Roger's ministry was located right on the main street on the waterfront in downtown Hilo, Hawaii. So the feds have hauled him to Honolulu, on a different island, and they are holding him without bail.

I have known Roger Christie for well over 20 years. I first met him when he came to the first North American hemp conference in 1988 in Portland and I let him stay in my house. He is a good, honest man who used the few resources he has worked for to help others. The federal government is holding him without bail, saying that he is a danger to the community.

Roger and 14 others were arrested with about one kilo of cannabis, or a little more than 2 pounds of marijuana. Several of the Green 14 co-defendants are homeless people. The day before Roger was imprisoned without bail on July 8th, he performed a wedding at Kalapana, which is what community spiritual practitioners do. I am fortunate to have visited Roger while I was in Hilo helping patients, seeing friends and gawking at the active volcano regularly over the past 5 years. Roger helped his community as he saw best.

It is outrageous that the federal government is holding Roger under the guise that he is a danger. Roger is a blessing to his community, not a danger.

It is outrageous that NORML uses its precious time & resources attacking a good man while he is down. It is outrageous NORML uses its resources attacking a person it should support. As a long-time NORML donor and supporter, and the past Washington state director of NORML (1982-84), I disagree with this poor decision. It is sad to see that NORML and its representatives have chosen to emphasize this poorly rationalized schism at all, no less publicly, to the detriment of reform and building a viable coalition.

Cannabis is the oldest known cultivated crop and produces more food, fuel, fiber and medicine than any other plant per area cultivated. Science verifies that it was an integral part in the prehistoric origins of most of the world's major religions, as Chris Bennett has documented so well. That NORML would denigrate, ridicule and publicly rebuke Roger Christie and the spiritual significance of cannabis is harmful for our mutual cause.

Yours truly,
Paul Stanford