NORML Foundation and ACLU Fight For RastafarianÕs Religious Rights In Guam

On July 30, a federal trial court dismissed importation of marijuana charges against Rastafarian Ras Iyah Ben Makahna when he argued that the marijuana was for religious use and consistent with his Rastafarian beliefs. The Guam government subsequently appealed the matter to the Guam Supreme Court.
On this past Tuesday, the NORML Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a joint amicus curiae brief with the Guam Supreme Court on behalf of Makahna. In the amicus brief, NORML Foundation and ACLU argue that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) applies to Guam as a federal territory, although the act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as it applies to the states. Under RFRA the government must demonstrate a compelling interest to overcome a personÕs right to the free exercise of his or her religion.
“In light of the current research revealing the relative harmlessness of smoking marijuana, the government simply cannot demonstrate a compelling interest to ban its use for religious purposes,” said NORML Foundation Litigation Director Tom Dean, Esq., who drafted the brief. “If successful, the case would establish persuasive authority for the religious use of marijuana within any federally owned land.”
For more information, please contact Tom Dean, Esq., NORML Foundation Litigation Director at (202) 483-8751.