Friday, March 22, 2013

Appeals Court Says Church of Cognitive Therapy Is Not A "Religion"

In State of Idaho v. Cordingley, (ID App., March 21, 2013), an Idaho appeals court rejected defendant's claim that possession of marijuana and paraphernalia charges against him should be dropped on religious freedom grounds. Defendant claimed that he was the founder of the Church of Cognitive Therapy (COCT) which established the use of marijuana as a "sacrament." The appeals court agreed with the lower court's ruling that COCT is not a "religion" for purposes of Idaho's Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act. Instead COCT's purpose is merely "to facilitate the use of marijuana, as an accompaniment to a member’s other religious (or nonreligious) beliefs." In reaching that conclusion, the court adopted a multi-factor test for defining religion that had been set out by the 10th Circuit.

UPDATE: A petition for review has been filed with the Idaho Supreme Court. It is available at 2013 Ida. LEXIS 124 (March 21, 2013).