Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Evidence of Religious Beliefs May Negate Intent To Distribute Marijuana

In United States v. Martines, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160719 (D HI, Nov. 8, 2012), defendant, who was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute over 100 marijuana plants, sought a continuance in order to secure the testimony of an expert on the Rastafarian religion.  A Hawaii federal district court denied the motion insofar as it related to a defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because the government advanced a sufficiently compelling interest to overcome a RFRA defense. However the court granted the motion to allow the defendant to "introduce evidence of his Rastafarian beliefs, including the expert testimony ..., in order to negate the Government's evidence of his intent to distribute."