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Appeal by marijuana-smoking ‘ministers’ deniedcomment (0)

May 14, 2009

HAMILTON, Ontario — Two self-styled ministers who say smoking marijuana is a church sacrament have lost their bid to use and distribute marijuana while they are free on bail and appealing their drug convictions.

Michael Baldasaro, 59, was sentenced to two years, and Walter Tucker, 75, received a one-year sentence, after they were convicted in late 2007 of trafficking marijuana; they sold $70 worth of pot to a plainclothes police officer.

The two men describe themselves as reverend brothers in the Church of the Universe, where they worship the Tree of Life: marijuana. The Supreme Court of Canada on April 23 declined to hear their appeal of any restrictions on their religious freedoms. As is its custom, the court did not give a reason for its decision.

The government also seized and sold the church headquarters, a house with an estimated value of $80,000. The judge who convicted the men dismissed their religious argument, calling their operation “a marijuana convenience store that operates for profit like a Prohibition-era speak-easy, but disguised as a church.”

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