Cannabis Religion Spirituality

Does the Prohibition of Cannabis Restrict Religious Freedom?

Interview with Craig Rubin

The First Amendment guarantees American citizens the right to practice their faith with-out the fear of prejudice.

Yet the dozen or so religious groups whose beliefs involve the sacramental use of marijuana can often find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

In conventional Christian churches, wine is often consumed as part of the service.

Alcohol is arguably a far more harmful sub-stance than marijuana, so does banning the use of cannabis in religious ceremonies constitute religious discrimination?

I caught up with Craig Rubin, marijuana activist and founder of the Temple 420 faith, to find out just how difficult it can be to practice a religion that holds cannabis sacred in a country where its use has been prohibited.

First of all, introduce yourself and say a little bit about your faith.

Craig: I believe in the Bible and that all of it is true, includ-ing the part where it says that God created the plants for man’s use, especially seed-bearing herbs. Also, our faith demands that one burns cannabis on a daily basis. One need not smoke cannabis, and we never smoked in church, but because we are always trying to reach stoners with the word, we burn cannabis as an offering of fragrant herb to our creator.

What is the role of cannabis within your religion and why is it so important to you?

Craig: It is important because sinners gravitate toward Temple 420 because of the herb, but we are a normal church and all we teach is the Bible.

Do you think the US government is restricting reli-gious freedom by keeping cannabis illegal?

Craig: Well, they are restricting my religious freedom. They broke every law in the book to shut our church down; lying on government forms, lying to judges, police stealing thousands of dollars, committing perjury, having lawyers solicit me that were working with the prosecution, and the list goes on and on. From my experience, the US Constitution means nothing in a so-called court of law, because I was told that I could not even mention it.

What happened when they raided your church? Did it put you off following your religious beliefs?

Craig: I never stopped believing in God and teaching the Bible. I went to work for another church when my church was shut down. Coincidentally, the officer of the court who seized my life’s savings ended up being a member of the church where I pastored after the government shut down Temple 420 on Hollywood Boulevard. Now the Temple exists in nearly every state as a simple study of the Bible in people’s homes. Potheads around the nation write to me asking me Bible questions and telling me how they have been inspired by my story to start small Bible studies at friends’ homes, where they enjoy burning cannabis and studying the Bible.

Do you feel that it was sacrilegious for the police to raid a religious establishment?

Craig: Yes and no. They are horrible people who broke the law raiding our religious establishment, but God had a plan and because of the SWAT raid on our church, we have now become more famous in more states than we would have done if our church had not been shut down.

Just like with the early Christians, the more the govern-ment tries to oppress us, the more people hear about what God is doing with Temple 420, and the more people are turned on to the Word.

You have registered your support for the use of medical marijuana. Why do you think it is so impor-tant that people have the right to use cannabis for medicinal purposes?

Craig: Because marijuana really helps. Most of the evi-dence is anecdotal, but that is because good studies are restricted. Everybody knows that pot gives you the munchies, makes you feel better when you are depressed, and is less dangerous than 99 percent of pharmaceutical drugs because it is natural and non-toxic.

You have compared the current prohibition of cannabis to the prohibition of alcohol. Can you say a bit more about this?

Craig: People haven’t been shot over beer since alcohol prohibition ended. The way to end the horrific violence associated with prohibition is to end the prohibition.

Prohibiting such a beneficial natural resource in a free soci-ety shows you that our society is not as free as we like to think it is. The truth is that we live in a police state. Since World War II, governments similar to the US have not been much different than what George Orwell described in 1984.

You have appeared in a number of different factual films about marijuana, including Super High Me, American Drug War, and How Weed Won the West. How did this come about and what was the experi-ence like?Craig: I have now been in ten marijuana-based films, most-ly because I wrote a book called 9021GROW, and that landed me a role in Weeds on Showtime. The rest, as they say, is history. I do the documentaries because I am a true anti-prohibitionist, but I really love acting. It just seems that I keep on getting pot movies or pot-type roles. I was in a TV pilot with TJ Hoban and Shirley Jones about cops on the beach and, although I played a business owner, it was a bong shop.

Can you tell us a little more about 9021GROW?

Craig: I wrote it so that I could get my political views out to the public. People can read my second book, Jesus Smokes Weed, at temple420.org for free, and 9021GROW is available at Amazon.com for less than the cover price.

What was it like starring in Weeds?

Craig: Awesome. It was my first acting job, so I was a little sweaty, but after doing a bunch of student films I began to feel more comfortable in front of a camera. Acting really is an art form, and I love the craft. Being on Weeds simply inspired me to work hard at acting because it is so much fun.

Which of your TV or film roles did you most enjoy, and have you got any more planned in the years to come?

Craig: I loved all the films and TV shows. Weeds was one of my favorites, obviously, and I just shot Venice Heat with TJ Hoban, where I got to work with the great Shirley Jones. I like acting and being funny, but I do documentaries too. Super High Me and How Weed Won the West are two documentaries where I’m funny yet make important points. I’m filming a Marc Emry movie today that is pre-sold with distribution, so it will be in theaters soon. It is hard to say favorite because you put your heart into each project and you make friends on all the jobs.

You are an advocate of hemp as an alternative food source. Can you say a little bit about this?

Craig: The marijuana seed is the most digestible protein on

the planet for human consumption. Although the soybean may have more protein, much of it can’t be used by humans. But marijuana is an incredible source of food for starving people living on marginal soil or for people look-ing to consume healthy organic food. Marijuana as a food source hasn’t even started to be tapped into yet. Just think about what George Washington Carver did with the lowly peanut.

You have previously expressed a concern that peo-ple who use cannabis without God in their life can be more prone to using it as a gateway drug to stronger, more dangerous substances. What is the reasoning behind this?

Craig: I think that people who don’t have God in their life are more likely to participate in behavior that can be detri-mental to their health. When people have God in their life and use the Bible as a guide to living, they know that their body is a temple and are more likely to treat it as such. When they don’t believe in the Bible or the fact that they were created by God, their life has less meaning. They believe that they came from a primordial slime and will simply go back to dust upon death. There is no hope, and because of this, people without God tend to sleep around more, dress more suggestively, and, from my experience, are more likely to be controlled substance users.

Finally, is there anything relevant that you would like to add?Craig: Study the Bible and if you have a question about it, ask.

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