Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jun 2015
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Column: NJ Weedman's Passing the Joint
Copyright: 2015 The Trentonian
Author: Ed Forchion, For The Trentonian


I'm going to cause a rip in Trenton. No not a bong rip, I take those 
all the time I'm talking about a rip (Religious Interruption in 
Procedures). We live in America and despite the claim that we have 
religious freedom in America we don't. The very prohibition issued by 
the founding fathers in the Bill of Rights was: "the making of any 
law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free 
exercise of religion"  We commonly call this our Right to Religious 
Freedom, the first amendment.

But in reality what we have is religious freedom as long as the 
"Christian majority" endorses it. Practices and beliefs of others 
faiths have been routinely banned and outlawed here with very little 
outcry. The practices of non-Christian religions are simply called 
criminal acts, like the use of marijuana.

Example: In some religions multiple wives are acceptable but here in 
America the good Christians of Congress have outlawed that religious 
practice because it doesn't conform to their religious practice of 
one-man one woman. Ironically same sex marriage is now becoming a 
national trend while polygamy is still outlawed. As I puff this JOINT 
I wonder what if a same sex couple decided to expand their marriage 
to one more, would a same sex threesome marriage be prosecuted as 
polygamy? OMG - just pass me THE JOINT.

I don't talk about my personal religious agnostics feelings, because 
it irritates me to be proselytize too. BUT for the public the record: 
I've been an agnostic for years but I lean towards a particular 
religion - Rastafari. I have professed in court to be a Rastafarian 
but I'm not in any way a spokesman for the faith of Rastafari. In 
fact I'm a bad example of one.

Like a follower of any faith I have questions about the faiths 
teachings. I am not perfect at anything. Yet, I see Bob Marley the 
faiths most well known follower as a Prophet and spiritual guide, a 
true representative of this faith - Rastafari. His songs have always 
been my sermons. I've been "getting up, standing up  fighting for our 
rights" as he taught us!

In my case now before the NJ Appeals Court NJ vs. Forchion, 
4052-4477; I fight for the religious right to consume the sacrament 
of the Rastafarian faith - "Ganja". Like those good Christians have 
now allowed for medical users.

Keep in mind I understand the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which 
covers New Jersey has ruled in Police v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 
(3d Cir. 1999) - ruled - "Govt had to provide a substantial 
justification for refusing to make accommodation for religious belief".

My fight is: if the state of New Jersey allows medical use of 
marijuana, it must also allow religious use.

The Liberty Bell Temple III?

I'm in the process of opening a Cannabis Temple here in Trenton, no 
one will force anyone to go  I wish only free thinkers to join my 
congregation, those that don't share my spirituality stay away, I 
don't go to your church and complain about what you do. I only ask 
that the larger "endorsed religious leaders" don't endorse any more 
persecution my way  I'm practicing.

In looking thru my Facebook a couple nights ago I spotted a letter 
written by one of my Facebook friends Justin Escher Alpert, addressed 
to members of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. I liked 
it so much I asked him if I could use in this week's column. He said 
yes, but when I began to copy and paste pieces from it I was hit by a 
epiphany. Or the word of GOD - "Use it all"

Then I walked into my JOINT, and there sat Reed Gusoria eating a 
chicken wrap and his two staffers chowing down on Salmon burgers.

Come to my JOINT, Pass the Joint and read this JOINT by Justin:

Dear Assemblywoman Angelini and Assemblyman Gusciora:

Here is some interesting insight on the Spiritual nature of the 
Cannabis Plant: "And that is the main problem of the spiritual use of 
drugs in general. Over the years of banning, people have lost a lot 
of knowledge of how to approach a substance, what safety precautions 
to take and what can be expected. Drugs have always been put to good 
spiritual use, and they have the power to alter human consciousness. 
But they need a positive handling to bring good changes, and that 
cannot be provided in criminal surroundings. In previous times, there 
were initiated people in charge of everything concerning them, and 
they made it a point to teach younger generations. CANNABIS AND THE 
SPIRIT- Cannabis truth Cannabis has been used for over a thousand 
years by most of the world's great cultures as a medicine. Most 
people in the west are unaware ...

Jeb Bush had this to say recently about People of Faith: "It's not 
just that People of Faith can have their views... It's that they need 
the space to act on their conscience. That is what Faith is about. 
The best of our Faith... anybody of Faith... Christian, Jewish, all 
faiths... is when People act on their core beliefs in a way to help 
others... or to protect the vulnerable... or to do whatever they 
think is right based on their Faith."

Assemblywoman Angelini and Assemblyman Gusciora, for many people, the 
Cannabis Plant becomes a source of Faith. It doesn't displace 
Religion, but in fact, it sits on top of it and compliments it.

Man walks down a sometimes lonely road, carrying only the weight that 
He chooses to carry. Along the way, He tears the order form page out 
of the back of the good book that he is reading, rolls up some 
ditchweed, and lights it to gain some insight from a Source that is 
not trying to Profit from His existence. In the process, Man gains 
context and continues to step with Faith that the road before Him 
leads to a more fulfilling place.

The Cannabis Community wishes to free itself from the prejudicial 
judgment of others who may not have a frame of reference that 
comfortably leads to Understanding. This is the outreach. There are 
many in the Cannabis Community who continue to act on their core 
beliefs to help others... to protect the vulnerable... to do what 
they think is right based on their Faith. They are not asking for 
permission. They are asking for recognition as an equal part of the 
broader fabric of society.

Thank you, Assemblywoman Angelini and Assemblyman Gusciora, for 
respectfully leading the conversation.

- - Justin Escher Alpert, Livingston
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom