Idaho Supreme Court Rules Against Big Island Group’s Claim that Marijuana is a Religious Sacrament

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The high ruled drug laws don't violate religious freedomBY BRAD IVERSON-LONG FOR THE IDAHO REPORTER – The Idaho Supreme Court upheld the drug conviction of Shawn Fluewelling, who claimed he used marijuana as a religious sacrament. The high court ruled that the state’s drug law didn’t violate his First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.

Fluewelling is a member of THC Ministry, a Hawaii-based organization. The group the use of believes cannabis is a fundamental right protected by God and the U.S. Constitution.

Last week, the Idaho Supreme Court unanimously rejected Fluewelling’s appeal that his religious rights were being violated.


THC Ministry formally stands for The Hawaii Cannabis, according to the group’s website. THC is also the abbreviation for the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

In his decision, Chief Justice Dan Eismann quoted an 1879 U.S. Supreme Court case stating how the government can regulate religious acts. “Laws are made for the government of actions; and, while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices,” the court wrote in Reynolds v. United States, which Eismann quoted.

Fluewelling had argued that the state’s exemption for the sacramental use of peyote, which applies to members of Native American tribes, applies to his church and marijuana, but the court disagreed.

According to Eismann’s ruling, Meridian police found a third of an ounce of marijuana in Fluewelling’s residence in 2008, but he pled guilty to intention to distribute marijuana, which is a felony and carries stiffer punishment than mere possession.

Fluewelling argued the state law is vague, letting prosecutors decide whether to prosecute for possession or intent to distribute drugs, but Eismann rejected that argument, saying Fluewelling told police he would share the marijuana with friends as a sacrament.


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