I got an e-mail yesterday from Craig X Rubin, the founder of the cannabis church Temple 420 (much more here and here), saying he is again looking at a decent prison sentence—he said 12 years. He was arrested in October for operating a pot pharmacy and will be in court today.
According to a court filing, Rubin, whose church upholds cannabis as a sacrament for communicating with God, says he was given permission by the court in his 2007 case to operate such a dispensary and further claims that he is being singled out in an act of religious discrimination:
Because of the religious nature of his medical marijuana facility clinic Rubin has been singled out for prosecution, thus, violating his First Amendment rights. Marijuana laws in the State of California are not ‘generally applied’ because the state has carved out an exception for medical marijuana. This exception is being ignored and Defendant Pastor Craig Rubin is being targeted by law enforcement in violation of his civil rights.
Further when the Defendant, a duly ordained minister, requested right under CA Penal Code 1524 and 1525 at the time of the arrest Detective Dennis Packer, the Officer in Charge and head of the Asset Forfeiture Division, asked, “What religion is this?”
The Defendant responded, “Judeo-Christian,” as the temple taught both the Old and New Testaments.
Detective Packer replied, “There is no such religion, so you have no religious rights.”
It seems as if the First Amendment was violated at this time because it does not seem appropriate for an officer of law enforcement to be making the call on what constitutes a religious establishment and what does not. It seems that should be done by the courts, but in this case LAPD took that matter into their own hands.
In fact, courts have generally punted evaluating the legitimacy of religious beliefs. As the California Court of Appeal stated in Smith v. Fair Employment and Housing Commission: “The determination of what is a ‘religious’ belief or practice is more often than not a difficult and delicate task…. However, the resolution of that question is not to turn upon a judicial perception of the particular belief or practice in question; religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit [free exercise] protection.”
It will be interesting to see how this turns out for Rubin, who in the above video can be seen delivering a sermon from 2008. It’s 4:20 long.