Pubdate: Sun, 12 Dec 2010
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)
Copyright: 2010 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Publish Date: December 12, 2010
Source: Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo)
Author: John Burnett, Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
Cited: The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry


The founder of The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry in Hilo has been denied 
bail, again, by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of 
Appeals in San Francisco.

It is the fifth time that bail has been denied to 61-year-old Roger 
Christie, accused of operating a marijuana distribution ring. He's 
scheduled to face trial in U.S. District Court in Honolulu starting 
April 26 with 13 co-defendants, who collectively call themselves the 
"Green 14."

Christie and the others, all Big Island residents, were arrested July 
8 in raids by federal agents, assisted by local police. All but 
Christie have been released on bail. Christie was denied bail by 
Federal Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang, who called him "a danger to the 
community," and remains incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center 
in Honolulu.

Christie's downtown ministry and Wainaku apartment were also raided 
March 10 by the feds, assisted by local police.

A three-count sealed indictment in June charged Christie with 
conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to 
distribute more than 100 marijuana plants, manufacturing marijuana 
and possession with the intent to distribute 240 marijuana plants.

According to court documents, authorities also confiscated 
approximately 845 grams of processed marijuana in the Wainaku 
apartment and more than $34,000 cash from the apartment and a bank 
safe deposit box. The money and the apartment face possible federal forfeiture.

The opinion written Tuesday by the appellate court states: "The 
district court correctly found that the government has met its burden 
of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that 'no condition or 
combination of conditions will reasonably assure ... the safety of 
.. the community, ... and that appellant therefore poses a danger to 
the community.' ... We therefore affirm the district court's denial 
of appellant's motion to reopen and to release defendant on bond."

An evidentiary memo filed in October by Assistant U.S. Attorney 
Michael Kuwahara stated: "Of particular importance to Magistrate 
Chang's decision was Christie's conscious decision to recommence the 
ministry's marijuana trafficking activities after March 10, 2010. ... 
Christie has also contended that there is no danger to community 
because this was only a marijuana case and does not involve other 
arguably more serious drugs. That hardly is a ground that can be 
seriously considered. Christie herein is charged with marijuana 
manufacture and distribution offenses, which notwithstanding arguably 
contrary state law, still constitute felony violations of Federal law 
to which mandatory minimum imprisonment sentences apply.

"... In his supporting memorandum ..., Christie contended that a 
61-year-old man as himself must still be served with Court orders 
imposing strict conditions upon him in advance (with pretrial 
supervision and the threat of revocation) to properly place him on 
notice of what is expected. To the contrary, we submit that someone 
requiring this extraordinary degree of 'spoon feeding' in order to do 
the right thing needs to be detained and not released."

Christie and his followers insist that their First Amendment rights 
to freedom of religion have been violated by the arrests and charges 
and that he is being held political prisoner.

A written statement by Christie to the Tribune-Herald read, in part: 
"Consider it pure joy whenever you face a trial testing your faith, 
because the testing of faith delivers perseverance."

In a companion statement, Christie's girlfriend, Share e. St. Cyr, 
who is also a co-defendant, called Kuwahara's argument "blatantly false."

"There is zero clear and convincing evidence," she wrote. "... In my 
opinion, the government has (borne) false witness and lied to the 
court and to the people of the U.S.A. by their words and intentions .."

St. Cyr said there were "many great letters of support" in her 
efforts to get the court to set bail for Christie and called the 
closing of the THC Ministry "a dear family putting their house up ... 
for collateral." 
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