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    25 Temmuz 2007 - 11:25Son Güncelleme : 25 Temmuz 2007 - 11:25

    * Hollywood'daki kilisesinde uyuşturucu sattığı iddia edilen bir rahip, "Dini inançlarım gereği marihuana kullanıyorum" dedi. "Bizce ot, İncil'de sözedilen hayat ağacıdır" diyen Rahip Rubin, 7 yıla kadar hapse çarptırılabilir.

     

    BC-NA-GEN--US-Marijuana Church, 1st Ld-Writethru,0605< 222="">

    * Lon Angeles minister cites religious protection in marijuana defense

     

      LOS ANGELES (AP) - A minister with mail order credentials who faces drug charges for distributing marijuana through his Hollywood church argued unsuccessfully that federal law protects his use of the drug because he believes it is a religious sacrament.

      The Rev. Craig X Rubin, 41, the leader of the 420 Temple who has appeared in episodes of the Showtime drug-dealing comedy "Weeds," faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of possessing marijuana for sale. Jury selection was set to begin Wednesday.

      He and some 400 members of his church believe marijuana is a religious sacrament and burn and smoke pot during services.

      "We feel pot is the tree of life mentioned in the Bible, so it is incorporated into the ceremony," Rubin said before the hearing began Tuesday.

      Though he was ordained in 1990 by the Universal Life Church - which, for a fee, will ordain anyone by mail order - police and prosecutors describe Rubin as a drug dealer. The Beverly Hills-born minister was arrested last fall and freed after posting $20,000 (14,458) bail.

      Rubin, who is representing himself, has asserted his protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - a 1993 federal law designed to prevent government from imposing laws that restrict religious freedoms.

      During Tuesdays hearing, however, Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel ruled that Rubin could not use the federal law as a defense because he faces only state charges.

      Rubin told the judge he would file a writ challenging her ruling and would consider a plea deal if it stands.

      "I have to get myself a private lawyer," Rubin said in an interview afterward. "Im getting knocked around in there."

      Both the defense and the prosecution said they could not find any cases in California where marijuana use was found acceptable on religious grounds. Deputy District Attorney Bob Chen seemed astounded that Rubin has never denied possessing and distributing the pot.

      "It seems to me he is conceding that at this temple, they were selling marijuana," he said.

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