Hawaii Pot Minister to Stay in the Slammer
Roger Christie will likely spend his third Christmas in a row in a federal prison in Honolulu on felony drug charges.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi denied Christie's request to be released on bail to his home in Hilo or to a halfway house in Kalihi.
It was Christie's sixth attempt at bail, but Kobayashi agreed with earlier rulings that Christie might not abide by the terms and conditions of release.
Kobayashi pointed to actions by Christie and his co-defendants that suggested to her it would not be wise to have Christie free on bail until his trail begins next January.
For one, his wife, Share Christie, has not been "problem free" while she awaits trial. For another, there is concern that there might be attempts to influence other co-defendants who could be called as witnesses.
And, to Kobayashi it was also clear that it was the Christies themselves who had requested delay of the trial several times, detracting from a sense of urgency that Roger Christie needed to be released right now.
Finally, though defendants are innocent until proven guilty, Kobayashi said she must accept "as true" the allegations against Christie, and thus he could be a flight risk and a danger to the community if released. She seemed persuaded by arguments from U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara that Christie was indeed engaged in manufacturing, possessing and dispensing marijuana for profit purposes, not for religious purposes.
All that will be taken up in the trial, barring a decision by the Christies to plea bargain.
In the meantime, Share Christie is running for mayor of Hawaii County, a position Roger once sought. And a public relations firm, Mintwood Media, is working on behalf of Christie.
"Reverend Christie's resolve in the face of coercive, indefinite imprisonment for the past two years, successfully demonstrates the sincerity needed to reclaim spiritual legitimacy of the world's most ancient global culture," stated Christie friend and "cannabis scholar" Paul J. von Hartmann in an Aug. 3 press release. "It remains to be seen whether people will support his heroic effort to defend everyone's fundamental human right of religious freedom."
It's unclear who is paying for the PR.