No Christmas in Hilo for Roger Christie12/19/2011
As a minister of Hilo's THC Ministry, Roger Christie's preferred sacrament contains tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana.
But, as inmate No. 99279022 of the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, Christie has not had access to his sacred rite in 17 months.
Arrested on July 8, 2010, and denied bail, Christie, 62, is set to spend his second Christmas in jail.
Thirteen co-defendants, including Christie's fiancée, Sherryanne "Share" St. Cyr, were allowed to post bond, but Christie was deemed by authorities to be a "danger to the community."
But no one will say why the Big Island pot minister, who operated openly for 10 years, is now so dangerous he can't be allowed home pending trial.
No one involved with the case would speak to Civil Beat about Christie. The assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case, Christie's own federal defender and even the U.S. Attorney herself refused to respond to repeated efforts to contact them, via phone, email and even a trip to the U.S. Attorney's Honolulu office.
As detailed in USA v. Christie et al., Christie is charged with "knowingly and intentionally" conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana along with harvested and processed pot and other products containing pot such as food, tinctures and oils.
According to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, Christie's operations were conducted at his THC Ministry in Hilo, also known as the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry. If convicted of the charges against him, he could face a prison sentence of between five and 40 years for each count.
Christie has pleaded not guilty and is anxious to have his day in court.
Civil Beat was not able to get a face-to-face interview with Christie — a request to visit him at the detention center was rejected. But, we sent him questions via an email delivered by his fiancée. He sent his answers back through the mail.
In the Q&A with Christie, Civil Beat asked about the accusation that the THC ministry was just a front for committing crimes.
"That charge is false," he wrote. "Our case is easily provable — IF — we get to show ALL the evidence and witnesses in our favor to a jury. 'I swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth, so help me GOD.'"
Barring a plea agreement, a postponement of the trial or the dropping of charges, jury selection is scheduled to begin Feb. 28 in the Honolulu courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi.
The outcome of the case could be a significant victory for proponents of decriminalization, or a routine sentencing of just another drug dealer.