Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Marijuana Conviction Upheld; Religious Freedom Defense Rejected

In People v. Rubin, (CA Ct. App., Dec. 1, 2008), a California state appellate court upheld a defendant's conviction for selling marijuana and possessing it for sale. The court rejected his argument that the Free Exercise clause of the state and federal constitutions protected his activity. Defendant Craig X. Rubin was the owner of Temple 420, a church in which members could buy various sorts of marijuana. Rubin, ordained online as a minister of the Universal Life Church, even planned to make marijuana available in the church through vending machines. The court rejected Rubin's argument that he was denied a fair trial because he was not allowed to refer to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The court also rejected Rubin's 1st Amendment defense, saying he was prosecuted for selling and possessing marijuana, not for its religious use. Finally the court rejected Rubin's claim that it should have instructed the jury on mistake of law. (See prior related posting.) [Thanks to Robert H. Thomas for the lead.]