Source: Victoria Times Colonist Contact: April 10, 1997 (p. A5) ACTIVIST RELIES ON BIBLE TO SUPPORT USE OF MARIJUANA THEORIES By Kim Westad (TC Staff) Biblical references were key Wednesday in a hemp advocate's court bid to have some drug laws ruled contrary to the Charter of Rights. Ian Hunter, the head of the B.C. Hemp Council, is challenging laws making possession and cultivation of marijuana illegal, and possession of magic mushrooms. The laws contravene several sections of the Charter, including religious freedom, Hunter says. Chris Bennett testified as an expert in the sacramental use of marijuana, and as an expert in the Church of the Universe, of which both he and Hunter are ministers. Ingesting marijuana is a religious act in the church and is an integral part of their religious experience, Bennett testified in B.C. Supreme Court. The main belief of the church is marijuana is the biblical tree of life, and that its leaves can be used to heal all nations. He enthusiastically read aloud several biblical passages to bolster his argument that marijuana has been used as a religious sacrament since the time of Christ. Moses used sacred oil, imbued with cannabis, as a way to divine revelation, Bennett said. "This was not considered using a drug or dope. This was a very religious act." Cannabis has been used by numerous other religions, he testified, including some sects of Hindus and Rastafarians. Some in society tend to look at marijuana smoking as "smoking dope" or a way to get high, he said. But if you believe in the plant, and its sacramental use in mythology and history, it's much more than that. "Its intent is spiritual, to provide religious experience. A person's experience relies on their belief system". In the Church of the Universe, members say a small prayer while the joint is passed, or touch it to a person's "third eye." An ageold belief says in the middle of the forehead the third eye is a third area of perception. Cannabis awakens that area of the brain and opens up the brain for wider perceptions of reality, Bennett said. The hearing continues today before Justice Montague Drake. Hunter is representing himself, and has a 97page written legal argument. He wasn't much fazed by a breakin overnight at his Johnson Street store, The Sacred Herb, a hemp shop.