Court Rules Native American Church Not Exempt From MJ Laws

Court Rules Native American Church Not Exempt From MJ Laws

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On Nov. 28, 2016, the United States Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal filed by a Native American church in Hawaii that was seeking exemption from federal marijuana laws, upholding a previous decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

According to the Associated Press, the case stems from a 2009 incident where one of the church’s members had his marijuana confiscated by law enforcement.

The church, known as the Native American Church of Hawaii, was seeking relief from federal marijuana laws by invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, claiming that the church used marijuana in sweat lodge ceremonies to bring participants closer to their creator.

Lower courts ruled that the church had failed to demonstrate “that a prohibition on cannabis forced plaintiffs to choose between obedience to their religion and criminal sanction.” With the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, the church is now left without legal recourse.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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