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Legal Marijuana is Possible
 by Marc Perkel

Dear Church of Reality Members,

I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the DEA 
has denied our request for an exemption for the use of Marijuana for the 
Church of Reality. The good news however is that they made a decision 
finally and that we can, and will, proceed to the Ninth Circuit Court of 
Appeals to get this decision overturned. I have read their opinion which 
is 47 pages long and this is something we can win. But - I'm going to 
need some help. Not asking for money because that isn't an issue. But I 
need some people who have legal skills to help me with some of the details.

First - I need to get a good scan of the decision. I'd like to get it in 
PDF form. Need to find some place near San Bruno California where I live 
that can do the scan. Could use a recommendation. Like to get that done 
today so that I can get it online for you all to read. It would be 
especially good if I can get a good OCR so we can cut and paste.

Second - I need to file some sort of notice of appeal (from 
administrative decision of DEA) with the Ninth Circuit. Need someone to 
find the form I need to file. This has to be done within 30 days. The 
document is dated Oct. 1st but I didn't get it till Oct. 10th and then I 
left town for a week. I'm conservative about time deadlines so I want to 
get this filed by Nov. 1st. So - need the right form.

Third - representation. My legal skills are excellent and I'm inclined 
to make the arguments myself. But even though I am the founder of the 
Church of Reality I may be required to get a lawyer. I need someone to 
determine if I can do this or if the CoR will need an attorney. If we 
get an attorney I want a smart one. I get really frustrated when I have 
to hire a lawyer who is dumber than I am.

Fourth - Legal research on the issues. I'm already formulating good 
arguments to deal with the issues raised by DEA. I'll post as soon as I 
can so you can read them. I need some help researching the following items:

a) DEA takes the position that the CoR isn't a religion but rather a 
philosophy. A philosophy doesn't have the same constitutional 
protections as a religion. Remember that these definitions are based on 
legal precedent so the IRS 501(c)3 status doesn't make any difference at 
all. In case law the definition isn't specific but generally relies on 
certain characteristics commonly found in religions. One of our problems 
is that we are a new religion and because of our (lack of) age. Thus we 
don't have a huge infrastructure, ancient legends, rituals, holidays, 
special clothing, clergy education, weddings, funerals, etc. However the 
web site has nearly 700 pages of material and that's pretty good for a 
religion not quite 10 years old.

We also lack a belief in the metaphysical and supernatural. If we threw 
virgins into volcanoes we'd be a religion. DEA is taking the position 
that we are just science, philosophy, and politics. At issue is whether 
there can be a reality based religion at all. I have some interesting 
arguments regarding that but looking for new ideas.

I think the analogy is Buddhism. Suppose Gautama Buddha, who is a real 
person who lived around 400 BC were alive today and he was 10 years into 
the creation of Buddhism and he was going to court to assert a religious 
right under RFRA. How would he prove Buddhism was a religion and not a 
philosophy? For all practical purposes, I am the Buddha of the Church of 
Reality in that I am a real person and founder of a new religion that 
hopefully will be around for centuries to come.

b) Burden on law enforcement - Unlike the UDV case that dealt with a 
Schedule 1 drug not widely abused, we are asking for Marijuana which is 
widely used (technically abused for the purpose of this proceeding). So 
we have to address the issue of if the government has a compelling 
interest that overcomes a religious right. However the issue needs to be 
narrowly focused on the impact on law enforcement that will change if 
the CoR is allowed to use Marijuana. In other words, will the drug abuse 
problem get worse because of us? One good thing I did in the application 
is that I stated the CoR wasn't going to obtain and dispense pot to the 
membership and that we were asking for immunity from prosecution if 
members were caught with personal use quantities. So I think that we can 
make a good case that crime isn't likely to increase.

c) Scope of request - The CoR is making a religious use request under 
RFRA that applies to members only. This is not about if pot should be 
legal or if Pot is a dangerous drug. Those issues are not before the 
court in this case. The assumptions here, for better or worse, is that 
Marijuana is one of the most highly abused and dangerous drugs on the 
planet, and that it has, in the opinion of DEA, no medical use 
whatsoever. This is a religious use case only. Anything else is off 
topic. We are asking basically for 3 things,

1) The religious use of Marijuana for the purpose of furthering our 
religious goals of understanding reality as it really is.
2) For the religious right to give Marijuana to the sick and dying as a 
religious right under the Sacred Principle of Compassion.
3) For the religious right to receive Marijuana for medical purposes 
under the religious right of self ownership and to preserve one's 
existence so that one can contribute to the Tree of Knowledge so that 
their life story is remembered.

It is important that all reasons must be religiously based because that 
is the only issue before this court.

Fifth - Membership - If we win this - what is a member? Who doe this 
apply to. I need some help on this. The CoR is not a license for 
non-members to get high on pot. This is in fact a religious act and 
there needs to be a connection to one of the above reasons for the 
exemption. The DEA has raised the issue and I don't yet have a clear 
answer. There are a number of issues involved.

1) It may not be our problem. If someone gets arrested for possession 
and claims an exemption as a CoR member ten it is up to them and the 
courts to figure out if they are on an individual basis. We are after 
all just a religion and it's the court's job to figure that out. Should 
we issue membership cards? Christian don't have to carry membership 
cards to assert a religious right - so why should we? But even if the 
CoR gets that right - what constitutes "membership". I need some legal 
research on this issue.

Also - this is in the context of a religious act. A Catholic drinking 
wine (the blood of Christ) for communion and a Catholic getting drunk on 
a bottle of Mad Dog isn't that same thing. Both are drinking wine. But 
only one is a religious act.

So - that's a lot to start with. I'll send you more information later. 
Right now I need to get the appeal filed and then figure out if we need 
a lawyer. So first things first.

Marc Perkel
First One
Church of Reality
"Through us reality becomes aware of its own existence"

Perkel can be reached at

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