California’s cannabis priestess arrested on felony charge

[Reverand Heidi] Grossman-Lepp charged that the raids violated the sect’s religious freedom. The police actions, she said, were akin to sending armed agents “into a Catholic Church to smash all the wine, destroy all the communion and arrest people for worshipping.” … [Another individual] joined the church as an affiliate congregation, put in a new garden, and watched it grow. He adopted a new name for his operation. He called it the Yuba Tree Church and cultivated a new garden, soon blooming with a Sugarleaf banner at the gate. “Our expectation this year is that we will get our sacrament and will be at peace with the community,” he said. Then [in early October of 2017], authorities tore the second garden down—and arrested [the individual].

Grossman-Lepp, who is not an attorney, has drafted and filed 19 lawsuits or legal motions challenging government or police intrusion … I asked … a Sacramento attorney and former federal public defender, to review the Sugarleaf [Church] documents. “At first blush, it looks like they are franchising religion so you can grow and sell marijuana,” he said. On closer inspection, though, [she] said the documents appeared to have been carefully drafted. They emphasized donations and not fees, spirituality and not commerce … “The more you read, it appears she has the protection of the exercise of religion,” he said of Grossman-Lepp. “I think her defense would stand up in court.” Others in Yuba County disagree … a land use attorney who represents a number of cannabis business clients, says Grossman-Lepp and the Sugarleaf Church have become “a blight on the cannabis industry” by offering promises of legal protection they can’t guarantee. “She is tricking property owners,” [he said]. “She is convincing them she can protect them. And she is attempting to practice law without a license.” “When she can’t protect them, they are stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in code violations or criminal violations.” [A Co-Founder of Sugarleaf also wrote] “I am a co-founder of the…Sugarleaf Rastafarian Church,” he wrote in the pending motion. “Currently as the terms of my probation, I am prohibited from receiving sacrament within my own church.” He went on: “I have not been able to expand my consciousness with my congregation for over a decade, due to my conviction for violating laws that are quickly becoming obsolete…My probation, as it stands, is forcing me to abstain from my spiritual believes, aggravating my well documented PTSD.”

Original Article (Leafly):
California’s Cannabis Priestess Arrested on Felony Charge
Artwork Fair Use: Public Domain

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