Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Marijuana Possession Conviction of Rastafarian Does Not Violate Free Exercise Clause

In State of New Jersey v. Forchion, (NJ App., Aug. 7, 2015), the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division in an appeal of a conviction for possessing marijuana rejected a claim by a Rastafarian that his First Amendment free exercise rights are infringed by criminalizing the possession of cannabis which is a sacrament used in his faith.  The court held that the statute is neutral and generally applicable, and "the fact that marijuana may be medically prescribed for some New Jersey citizens does not create a secular exemption that triggers strict scrutiny analysis."