Feature — Marijuana Community Reacts To The Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry Bust

(Editor’s note:  A version of this story appeared in the July 14, 2010 edition of the Big Island Weekly.)

The indictment and arrests of 14 people said to be associated with The Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry were met with mixed reactions from those in the marijuana community who believe the first amendment right ensuring freedom of religion extends to marijuana.

While there were 14 people arrested, the public’s focus seems to be largely focused on Roger Christie and his ministry, which boasts, “We use cannabis religiously, and you can too.”

The Rev. Dennis Shields, of The Religion of Jesus Church, ordained Christie as a “cannabis sacrament” minister in June of 2000. Today he views Christie as a “Jimmy Swaggart type,” referring to the former televangelist who was involved in a high-profile 1988 sex scandal, or an Elmer Gantry, the false prophet described in Sinclair Lewis’ 1920s satirical novel.

Is he persuasive enough to make people drink the Kool-Aid? “Near that,” Shields said, referring to the late Jim Jones, founder and leader of the People’s Temple, and the one responsible for more than 900 Temple members perishing in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978. “I don’t think he has much of a moral compass,” Shields said of Christie.

“(Christie’s) schmoozey and suave and hits on women,” Shields described, adding his disapproval that Christie uses language he came up with for his own Religion of Jesus Church to sell “sanctuary kits” over the Internet for between $50 to $250. Shields noted the U.S. Postal Service is involved in the federally-led investigation for the fact that sanctuary kits were sold to mainland residents over the Internet.

Shields himself was involved in four years of legal drama regarding the religious use of marijuana. He noted he has been “convicted of my convictions,” spending $25,000 to defend himself for a misdemeanor charge related to nine ounces of “oldey-moldy pot I neglected to throw away.” He ultimately received a suspended nine-year jail sentence and a year of probation for the misdemeanor.

“I feel for those going, ‘Oh my God, this is a fascist state, this is a police state.’ But two wrongs don’t make a right,” Shields said. “On the one hand, the government’s wrong. On the other hand, you cannot hide behind a religion falsely, creating a wrong to correct the other wrong.”

Meanwhile, the Rev. Nancy Harris, of Sacred Truth Mission, is in the throes of being prosecuted in state court for one count of commercial promotion of a detrimental drug and two counts of paraphernalia, and she is using the religious use of marijuana defense.

She has called for Shields and all of those who believe in the religious use of marijuana to “band together, not bicker among ourselves.”

“This is an example of a government machine (prohibition) that has gone berserk, and is mowing down the citizens. Even if cannabis were dangerous, it would have to be very dangerous indeed that we would prioritize its prohibition over our freedoms.”

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  1. Tom Burnett
    Tom Burnett says:

    @Darren: Discussions can move anywhere. What matters is the citizenry’s ability to impose it’s will on the government it elects and pays to carry out it’s wishes.

    If the thread is hijacked, an instant solution is at hand. When the government is hijacked, no solution is possible because the same government which is responsible for elections is also responsible for counting the votes.

    In congress ONE legislator can kill a bill. That’s not right. At the county level, all the decisions are made behind closed doors in order to keep the sunshine laws in the dark. How can anyone re-elect any incumbent when we all know what is going on?

    I cannot stress enough that plants, created by nature, cannot be illegal – but they are. The very fact that is even possible makes me wonder how people’s minds work…of if they do at all. I think we should make garden slugs illegal. Chickens, which can theoretically carry Avian flu should be illegal.

    Plants? No. Not even poppies or coca. In their natural state they aren’t harmful. Only after they are chemically adulterated….like food…are they bad.

    The plants aren’t harmful. It’s human greed which is harmful and I could understand it if we were immortal. But no matter how much money you have, you are going to get a dirt nap sooner or later and the people you left your billions to are going to fight over it forever and piss on your grave.

  2. Thomas
    Thomas says:


    You can see Dr. Conner in Hilo, 961-4722 or the mobile Dr. Baiko 854-6335, when he is around. I have my license although I am not using it or growing any at the moment. I got mine from my primary care physician in Hilo Dr. Earnest Bade, a well known Hilo doctor. I think some of the doctors are giving them if you qualify, although many are afraid because of implied threats, or they are not knowledgeable on marijuana as medicine. Mine is for arthritis my doctor has been treating me for this for many years so knows my history. He recommended it because the anti-inflammatory pills like Vioxx, Celabrex, Diclofenec, ect. are so dangerous and can cause liver, or kidney failure, and heart attacks. I have been afraid to use marijuana even though I know its safe and did use it years ago because I do not want another swat raid at my home. I am working on a lawsuit against the county and state over this issue and hope to get that going before the pharmaceuticals kill me. I may make it a class action law suit as many others have ask to be included. I do not understand how a judge with no medical training can over rule a trained licensed doctor and force a person to take a pill that can kill him when a doctor says its dangerous and recommends marijuana, as a safe alternative. These judges say unless there is no other medicine you can use you can not use marijuana or they will throw you in jail. The alternatives almost invariably have serious, very dangerous side effects including organ failure and death. There has never been a documented death from marijuana side effects. Its crazy judges do this but both judges Hara and Nakamura in Hilo do so routinely. Its likely someone will die or suffer serious harm, as a result if they have not already. My lawsuit will seek to hold them and the county, and state responsible for such willful negligence, and endangerment, as well as put an end to judges or probation officers making medical decisions unless they are licensed doctors. I do not go to a plumber to get my car fixed and a judge has no business making medical decisions, that endanger a persons health or life, because they for some reason do not like a particular doctor. If there is a doctor doing something wrong then charge them otherwise butt out of the patient doctor relationship.

    A lawyer/judge saying they know more than doctors and putting defendants lives in danger because they are worried they might get high on the medication they use is outrageous, and shows the hysterical nature of these laws and the people imposing them. They would rather have you take a narcotic like Vicaden, Percaset, even Morphine or Oxycontin all of which are highly addictive and very dangerous than allow you to use a safe drug like marijuana. Its classic reefer madness with judges overstepping their expertize in a very dangerous way. I think its ripe for litigation and hope to move forward soon on it. When the government starts telling doctors that a judge is more qualified then them to make these decisions that is in my view a police state. In particular there are 4 doctors these judges do not accept as experts. The most amazing part is they issue by far the majority of licenses and treat thousands of patients. They are the ones documenting the histories of so many patients. That in any other situation would have them considered specialist or experts. No one here has more experience than them least of all a judge with no medical training. The whole marijuana war is waged on hysteria, misinformation and lies. That in its self shows its a scam, its about money nothing more, lets put an end to this so we can move on. I look forward to growing acres of hemp to see what we can make with it locally. Maybe me and Tom B and many others can make a living on our farms once we put an end to this persecution that is the war war on marijuana, our neighbors, friends and families. Vote out anyone who will not put an end to this, and do not vote for candidates like Fred Blas, Inishi, Ikeda, Enriquez, Yoshimoto, and mayor Kanoi that want to continue this. Hoffman, Yagong, and Ford better wake up and do the right thing or see ya later. While we have lots of serious issues this is a big one encompassing the budget, civil rights, freedom, and crime, and to pretend its a fringe issue for hippies is no longer going to work. This effects us all in some way, fix it or get out of the way.

  3. Buddah Belly
    Buddah Belly says:

    @ Greg, I think your tweeting idea is great! Unfortunately I have to take a random drug test for the next 5 years, so I most likely will be abstaining from the light-up… I do not know how to text or tweet, but I want to keep working on all angles of the September 8th action, so if you or anyone else interested wants to get on our contact list, please email FriendsforJustice@gmail.com

    Until we meet again….

  4. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    This is a highly decorated officer that was in the thick of it for decades. He understands the war on drugs better than most. Read his credentials and then what he has to say.

    Check out the picture at the top of the story, that is a lot of people are we really gonna lock them up.

    An Interview with Major Neill Franklin


    Major Neill Franklin is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, Major Franklin retired from the Maryland State Police in 1999 where he held the position of commander for the Education and Career Development Command and the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement.

  5. Casey Casseday
    Casey Casseday says:

    You see these outrageous seizure figures in every single arrest. $5 million worth of immature stem stock? You can’t smoke the dirty heavy roots either, if they are reporting 3000 plants, it is likely 2800, two inch clones with a potential street value of a full grown plant. It sounds as though Mr. Christie got a little comfortable but, lord (Jah) forbid he have faith in the system designed to protect him from prosecution. Even here in California, those with permission to grow for themselves and chronic patients are completely still at risk. The Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (C.A.M.P.) seizes bigger and bigger crops and amounts (mostly BS) every year. It obviously isn’t working if their numbers continue to go up, but it’s also hard to say if that’s just indulgence in the real value of the amounts. Regardless of quality, the officials give the little plants the highest possible street value of the dankest dank. I’ve been documenting this important topic in American politics/medicine . . and now religion since 2005 and would love to hear anyone’s comments on our Marijuana Documentary. It’s available on HULU.com for FREE! See what it’s like to be an outdoor marijuana grower, doing it on their own land, with legal permission, but still under federal scrutiny.


    Casey Casseday
    Producer, The Green Rush

    HULU embed:

  6. dusty akers
    dusty akers says:

    just to let the world know that dennis shields is a total (censored for inflammatory and potentially libelous characterization — Tceh) he swindled me to the tune of 2grand, i supplied him with a transmission, all brand new and he just ripped me off for it this fat f— does nothing but swing his big fat ass and big mouth around like most loud mouths do all the time pretending to be a peace and freedom dude…all the stuff that happens to him, he deserves and then some…never trust this lazy ass make believe reverand..he does the marijuana advocates a disservice…

  7. Maxie ONeill
    Maxie ONeill says:

    This is in regards to Roger Christies response letter posted January 28th 2011 at 12:24pm referencing the Sanctuary Bed and Breakfast. Christie has no business, authority or permission to speak on my behalf. He was a disruptive and devastating force in my life at that time (2000-2001). I was entrenched in an exhausting divorce and a new resident to the Big Island. Roger smelled the vulnerability and proceeded to jeopardize my house, property, finances and general well-being claiming he and his “trustie” Sanctuary sign and plant tags would protect everything.

    Christie wishes me all the best??? I could have been the one arrested and losing my assets! His “current” guinea pig,….I mean girlfriend, is paying that price now. Roger never thought of the Green 13’s best interests as any priority. He could have set up his pot shop on his own land, testing out his own Sanctuary Kit 10 years ago without involving anyone else. Roger chose to put 13 Hilo residents at risk and brought them down.

    Luckily, the Sanctuary B & B was short lived as I shut it down and booted Christie off my property. He is a dangerous FRAUD selling worthless ink on paper he can’t back up. Go to the NORML website blog to read more on this. I am all for legalizing cannabis for adults. For me, it is not about exposing a pot peddler. It’s about exposing a predator. Don’t feel sorry for Rog, he is loving the attention.

    I wish you all the best in Federal Prison…. GOD THAT’S GREAT!

    Maxie O’Neill
    Recovered Guinea Pig

  8. dusty akers
    dusty akers says:

    pakalolo is something all of us need to take a different look at and all that represent it need to be true to the cause and be the kind of people that maintain a moral and ethical life style and be beyond reproach..but dennis shields is a thief and liar and con man as he ripped me o the tune of 3000.00 as he called me friend and stole a new transmission he ordered from me and just plain lied when it came to paying for it…i was a 30 year kamaina and this act by him was my send off as i moved off the island….

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  1. […] am writing to you in support of Roger Christie and the decriminalization of cannabis/marijuana. Roger was arrested by federal agents on July 9th […]

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