Subject: US: Man Claims Faith Allows Marijuana

Source: Wheeling News_register

Tuesday 24 Jan 2006

Author: Katie Wilson
MOUNDSVILLE - A Marshall County man maintains he should be allowed to
smoke marijuana because of his religion.

Steven Schrumpf is charged with misdemeanor offenses of possessing
marijuana and driving under the influence of it.

According to a motion filed by his attorney, J.K. Chase, Schrumpf should
be allowed to smoke marijuana because he is “an active member and
practitioner of a religious order known as The Hawai'i Cannabis (THC)
Ministry.” Schrumpf is also an ordained minister in the Universal Life
Church, the motion states.

According to the motion, the two organizations “mandate the cultivation
and use of marijuana as a religious sacrament and as a fundamental part
of the practice of said religion.” The motion further states if Schrumpf
is prosecuted, it will interfere with his right to practice his religion.

The motion also states the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and
Article 3 Section 15 of the Constitution of the State of West Virginia
guarantee the defendant's right to religious freedom.

According to the THC Ministry Web site, the organization helps to
protect its members from “arrest, prosecution and/or conviction of
'marijuana' charges - wherever you live - starting as soon as you
sign-up, become ordained and receive your ministry documents. We provide
a legitimate religious ‘defense to prosecution' for sincere people over
21 years old.”

The site also includes directions on how to build a legal defense based
on religion.

The Universal Life Church Web site offers “instant ordination” and
includes instructions on how to make a living as a minister. According
to the site, more than 400,000 ministers have been ordained through the
site since 1995.

While Chase would not comment on the case, he said Magistrate Mark
Kerwood will set an evidentiary hearing on the motion at a later date.