Pubdate: Tue, 31 May 2011 Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON) Copyright: 2011 Canoe Limited Partnership Contact: http://torontosun.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/457 Author: Sam Pazzano A TOKIN' SENTENCE A "reverend-brother" of the Church of the Universe gave up his freedom rather his marijuana smoking. Shahrooz "Brother Shahrooz" Kharaghani, 32, was sentenced to 2 1/2 months jail for trafficking pot, forsaking a six-month stay-at-home jail term that would have been imposed by Justice Thea Herman. Crown attorneys Nick Devlin and Donna Polgar initially proposed the conditional term, but changed it to a six-month jail term after "Brother Shahrooz" said he would keep on smoking grass, thus breaking obey-the-law condition of the stay-at-home sentence. Herman took two weeks off for time already served, leaving "Brother Shahrooz" with 10 weeks to serve behind bars. Herman ruled against the Church of the Universe's bid for an exemption from Canada's marijuana laws for religious reasons in February. But "Brother Shahrooz's" drug dealing was markedly different than others in the business, she noted. "(His trafficking of cannabis) does not have the hallmarks that characterize typical drug trafficking, most notably it lacked a significant profit motive," said Herman. "He didn't negotiate price; he did not even discuss money. He received what was given to him and that money went to cover the costs," said Herman. "The proceeds enabled him to meet his basic needs for food and clothing and helped sustain the operations of the church." His co-accused Peter Styrsky, 53, earlier received a time served sentence of six months. Styrsky, 53, and Kharaghani, 31, were charged in 2006 with trafficking after undercover cops accused the pair of selling them cannabis. Lawyers Paul Lewin and George Filipovic argued their clients believe marijuana is sacred and brings them closer to God. Prosecutors Nick Devlin and Donna Polgar said the judge's decision "means that the courts won't tolerate people setting up recreational drug convenience stores in their neighbourhoods whether under the guise of a religion or otherwise. "Selling marjuana to members of the public is a crime and the trafficking of marijuana is not a religious activity," Devlin said. Shahrooz's lawyer George Filipovic said he'll appeal the religious ruling. It shows the Charter doesn't protect religious freedoms as police are targeting his client, he said. "Meanwhile, the 25,000 pot-smokers who lit up in front of Queen's Park a few weeks ago were left untouched by police," Filipovic said. "My client will be spending the rest of his life in jail to continue his religious practice," he said. "The Charter is useless if it can't prevent this." - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.