Senate Committee Approves Resolutions Urging Release of Roger Christie
Two resolutions urging the federal government to release marijuana advocate Roger Christie on bail passed a vote held yesterday by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 and Senate Resolution 42 were both passed unanimously, with Senators Espero, Galuteria, Slom in attendance. Senators Baker and Green had been excused from the hearing.
The senators made amendments to the language of the bill, removing a section that described Christie as a “gentle, peaceful person” and adding language that clarifies that the Hawaii legislature takes “no position on his guilt or innocence.”
The measures head next to the Senate Judiciary Commitee, chaired by Sen. Clayton Hee. According to staff at the office of Sen. Russell Ruderman of Puna, who co-authored the legislation, the Judiciary Committee has until April 1st to hear the measure.
Christie, a pro-legalization marijuana activist and founder of THC Ministry, was arrested in July 2010 on charges relating to growing and distributing marijuana.
He has been held in Hawaii’s Federal Detention Center since his arrest. Christie’s trial has been scheduled for July 23.
A federal judge has denied Christie’s release on bail, stating that he is a “danger to the community.” Christie’s THC Ministry offered cannabis as one of its services to members.
Senators Espero and Ruderman have requested a meeting with Christie to discuss the case. Due to time constraints, they have yet to meet with him. According to Ruderman’s office though, attempts to meet with Christie are still under way.
The Senate had earlier referred to committee two Senate resolutions asking President Obama to launch a formal investigation into whether the federal government is violating Christie’s constitutional rights by keeping him detained.
Those earlier measures, which are identical in wording, state that the holding of Christie is “illegal and unconstitutional,” and call for him to be released immediately.
Christie has been denied bail seven times. Reasons given by prosecutors at those hearings include Christie’s continued pursuit of marijuana distribution even after his operations were raided by police in March 2010.