Cannabis Minister Roger Christie Sentenced to Five Years
Hawaii cannabis minister Roger Christie was sentenced today to five years in federal lockup for distribution of marijuana.
Appearing before Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi in federal court in Honolulu, Christie was also sentenced to one year in jail for each of two counts of failing to file a federal tax return. Those sentences will be served at the same time.
His sentencing had been postponed three times before.
Christie’s wife, Sherryanne “Share” Christie, was also scheduled to be sentenced today, but no record of the court action had been filed on the federal court’s website this afternoon.
According to court documents, prosecutors were seeking a 27-month prison term for Share Christie, who has been out on bond.
Both Roger Christie and Share Christie entered into plea deals in September 2013.
In the case of Roger Christie, prosecutors dropped 15 other counts related to the manufacture, sale or distribution of marijuana.
Share Christie pleaded guilty to possession and trafficking of marijuana. She had faced a total of 13 marijuana-related charges.
It was not immediately clear how much longer Roger Christie will be behind bars, as he apparently will be given credit for time served.
He has been in the federal lockup in Honolulu since July 2010, after being indicted by a federal grand jury the month before. However, he had also been arrested in March 2010.
Christie last week apparently believed he could be released by Oct. 8.
Christie said that in a post apparently made by him on the Facebook page “Liberate Roger Christie and the THC Ministry – 14 Facing Federal Charges.”
The posting was dated Thursday, April 24, a day after Christie’s attorney filed a document with the court responding to prosecutors’ sentencing report noting that five years is the minimum sentence for the marijuana distribution charge.
Christie was also sentenced today to four years of supervised release, the federal equivalent of parole.
The conditions of the supervised release include refraining from use of marijuana or other controlled substances or from being in the presence of using marijuana. He will also be subject to drug testing.
The judge also ordered Christie to pay $13,944 in back taxes as well as interest to the Internal Revenue Service.
The federal government previously seized Christie’s condominium in the Wainaku Terrace apartment building on Kauila Street in Hilo and $21,494 in cash for forfeiture.
Since his indictment, Christie’s defense has included unsuccessful attempts to claim a religious defense for THC Ministry providing marijuana as a “sacrament” for monetary “donations.” He also said that he and his ministry were the victims of entrapment because, he claimed, a US attorney had told him he was not interested in prosecuting them.
Both contentions were rejected by the court.
Documents filed by prosecutors Friday in support of their sentencing recommendations said Christie was prosecuted because he was “pushing the limits” of selling marijuana “under the auspices of the ministry.”
“Had R. Christie confined his activities on the island of Hawaii to purely advocacy for marijuana legalization, he would not be standing as a defendant in Federal District Court about to be sentenced,” the document from Assistant US Attorney Michael Kawahara said. “R. Christie has been prosecuted and convicted because he voluntarily elected to venture into the realm of marijuana trafficking for profit.”
At least 11 of the dozen others indicted along with the Christies have entered into plea deals with prosecutors.