August 28, 2006
Rolling their religion
This may be tough to defend in court, given the religious right’s obvious ability to hallucinate without drugs. Plus 172 pounds of pot is one hell of a sacrament:
A couple from Pima, Ariz. arrested in a car that contained 172 pounds of marijuana say the drug is a sacrament in their religion. The U.S. attorney’s office contends they’re trying to use religion as a cover for a drug organization.
Danuel and Mary Quaintance staked their religious freedom claim in federal court here this week in a three-day hearing in connection with their February arrest in Lordsburg on drug charges, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
… Danuel Quaintance’s attorney, Marc Robert, portrays him as “a spiritual man who has followed his religious beliefs and prac-
tices at great personal risk.”
… The Quaintances contend they have a right to marijuana as the central focus of the Church of Cognizance, founded by Danuel Quaintance in 1991 and registered as a religious organization in Arizona in 1994.
The couple say the church, which has about 130 adherents nationwide, functions largely through “individual orthodox member monasteries.”
They cited a February ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a small Santa Fe-based church to bolster their arguments. In that case, the court ruled that O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal may use a hallucinogenic tea as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God. Hoasca tea, which contains an illegal drug known as DMT, is considered sacred to the Brazilian-based religion.
Danuel Quaintance testified the Church of Cognizance is based on his research and interpretation of religious texts and is a form of neo-Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion that holds as sacred a drink made from a mountain plant called haoma.
In the teachings of Zoroaster, the plant, the drink and the god are the same. The Quaintances believe cannabis, hemp or marijuana is haoma.
None of which makes any less sense than this.
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