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United States v. Roger Christie (2010-present, Hawai'i)

posted Jun 11, 2013, 4:16 AM by The Editor   [ updated Jun 11, 2013, 5:17 AM ]
As of June 2013, Roger Christie has been held without bail in federal custody for over three years.  He is currently incarcerated at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center awaiting trial:

Roger Christie #99279-022
FDC Honolulu
P.O. Box 30080
Honolulu, HI  96820

Roger Christie is a commercial pilot, former US Army conscientious objector who refused his orders to serve in Vietnam, and longtime drug policy reform advocate.  As a resident of Big Island, Hawaii, he co-founded the Hawai'i Hemp Council and the Hawaiian Hemp Company. By 1991, he had one of the first retail hemp stores in the world. In June, 2000, he was ordained as a minister through the Universal Life Church and founded the THC Ministry as a cannabis sacrament minister.  In 2004 and 2008, Christie ran for mayor of Hawai'i County.

Christie ran the THC Ministry in Hilo, Hawaii for ten years.  For a $50 donation, a person could become a “Practitioner” and receive a plaque, an “affidavit of religious use”, two ID cards, and seven “Sacramental Plant Tags”. For $250, the donor would get a “Sanctuary Kit” which also included the “THC Minsitry Cannabis and Religion Guide."

On March 20, 2010, Federal agents raided the downtown Hilo sanctuary of Christie's Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, assisted by local police.  Christie said authorities spent about seven hours searching his home and ministry, starting around 6 a.m. The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspector and U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service were involved in the search. 

A three-count sealed indictment in June 2010 charged Christie with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana and possession with the intent to distribute 240 marijuana plants.  According to court documents, authorities also confiscated approximately 845 grams of processed marijuana in the Wainaku apartment and more than $34,000 cash from the apartment and a bank safe deposit box. The money and the apartment face possible federal forfeiture.  Christie allegedly provided a daily average of one half pound of cannabis to 60 to 70 spiritual customers each day, or about 180 pounds (82 kg) per year.

Christie was arrested on Thursday July 8, 2010, along with 13 others from the Big Island.  The arrests culminated a two-year investigation by federal and county law enforcement during which they seized 2,296 marijuana plants, nine weapons, 33 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $21,000 cash and four properties.  He was taken to Oahu, where he was incarcerated at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center. All other detainees were speedily released on bail or signature bond before trial. But Hawaii Federal District Court Judge Alan Kay ruled that Christie must remain in federal custody until his trial, because Christie represents a “danger to the community.” Judge Kay's ruling was upheld by 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.  Christie is being represented by a public defender.

Continuing the family tradition of civic leadership, Roger's wife Share Christie ran for Mayor of Hawai'i County in 2012.  Hawaiian senators Russell Ruderman and Will Espero have called for Roger Christie's release from prison pending trial; both senators visited Roger Christie at the Honolulu FDC on April 3, 2013.  Sen. Ruderman has stated, “I have known Roger for over 25 years. He is one of the most peaceful persons I know. To anyone who knows him, the claim that he is a danger to the community is absurd.”

Christie’s trial was set for January 23, 2013; however, on Jan. 17, 2013, a federal grand jury in Honolulu returned an updated indictment with additional counts of marijuana sales in 2008 and failure to file a tax return in 2008 and 2009.  Christie’s trial on federal drug trafficking charges has been set for July 23, 2013; he faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.  Six co-defendants have already made plea deals with the prosecution to cooperate with authorities.

Last updated June 11, 2013 by Lex Libreman for WEED WARS: United States v. Marijuana.

Sources:

Blair, Chad. "No Christmas in Hilo for Roger Christie." Civilbeat.com. Honolulu Civil Beat, 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/12/19/14142-no-christmas-in-hilo-for-roger-christie/>.

Christie, Roger. "History, Beliefs and Practices of the THC Ministry." THC Ministry: The Hawai'i Cannabis Ministry. THC-Ministry.org, n.d. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://www.thc-ministry.org/?page_id=362>.

Christie, Share. "Please Vote *Christie For Mayor* on August 11th!" The Last Marijuana Trial. The Last Marijuana Trial, 13 July 2012. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://the-last-marijuana-trial.com/please-vote-christie-for-mayor-on-august-11th/>.

Lincoln, Mileka. "Hawaii Senators Seek Release of Roger Christie - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL." HawaiiNewsNow.com. Hawaii News Now, 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/21769496/hawaii-senators-seek-release-of-roger-christie>.

"Roger Christie." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 May 2013. Web. 11 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Christie>.
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