Rare Federal Marijuana Conviction
The Department of Justice under President Obama has stood down from conducting prosecutions of local pot farmers in the wake of decriminalization, medical marijuana laws, and outright legalization. That is why the recent conviction of a Marshal man claiming a First Amendment freedom of religion right is surprising.
Branden Barnes claimed he was a native American “medicine man” and that his possession, distribution and use of marijuana was cloaked with the protections contained in the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment. Federal judge Janet Neff disagreed with the argument, however, precipitating a guilty plea.
Barnes’ defense lawyer asserted that marijuana should receive the same protection within the freedom of religion context as does peyote in native American worship. Opposing the argument, the U.S. Attorney argued that Barnes was a member of a sham religion that masqueraded as a church solely for the protection of drug dealers.
One of the reasons Barnes got on the federal radar of the DEA were his frequent trips to a church in Toledo where he allegedly distributed marijuana.
If you or a family member are facing marijuana or drug charges, contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation to review your options.