By Steve Elliott
A member of the The Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry in Hilo has filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of his pastor, Rev. Roger Christie, who has been held without bail by the federal government as a pretrial detainee for more than 3 years.
Mike Ruggles, 56, a resident of Mountain View on the Big Island, filed the petition with the United States District Court in Honolulu on July 23.
Rev. Christie was arrested by federal authorities on July 8, 2010, charged with distributing
marijuana to members of his congregation. He has been held without bail at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center for more than 36 months.
“Roger was a pillar of the community and he is sorely missed at this time,” said Ruggles. “Since Roger has been gone, meth use and violent crime have gotten worse, not better. Roger’s influence on the community was more effective than 50 cops on the street.”
Christie founded his Cannabis Ministry in the early 2000s. The Ministry operated openly on the second floor of the historic Moses building in downtown Hilo, right across from Hilo Bay.
Federal authorities conducted an extensive investigation of the Ministry beginning in 2008.
Rev. Christie will argue for his right to base his defense on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at a hearing scheduled for July 29th at 10:30 a.m. and July 30 at 10:00 a.m. in the Honolulu Federal Building Courtroom of U.S. District Judge Kobayashi.
“Our country was founded on religious freedom,” said Ruggles. “The government wants to shut down his religion. Whose religion is next?”