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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pot use has place in spirituality

A run-in with the police is the last thing any stoner wants.

Don’t panic if you ever see red and blue lights behind you while driving.

But don’t rely on saying you use marijuana for religious purposes. Because unfortunately, the Arizona Supreme Court isn’t thrilled with that idea.

Tuesday, in the first ruling of its kind in Arizona, the justices said state law permits the government to “”burden the exercise of religion”” but insist on only enforcing the “”least restrictive means”” of doing so.

Four years ago, Daniel Hardesty was arrested after being stopped by police while driving in Yavapai County. Hardesty testified that he had been an active member of the Church of Cognizance since 1993, and his membership in the Church of Cognizance allows him to use marijuana.

A church official testified that the religion, founded in 1991, is based on “”neo-Zoroastrian tenets”” and that marijuana provides a connection to the divine mind and spiritual enlightenment.

Anyone who smokes marijuana understands this.

Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch said Hardesty’s claim that as a member of the Church of Cognizance he and the rest of the congregation should be allowed use marijuana in any amount they want, anywhere and at any time. Justice Berch said that an outright ban is the “”least restrictive means”” for the government to further its interest in protecting the public.

Protecting the public from what?    

Oddly enough,they weren’t so concerened when it came to peyote.

If the Native Americans use the federal law to shield them from prosecution under state drug laws, why can’t members of the Church of Cognizance?

The Supreme Court decided that peyote, used sincerely as part of a religious practice, is a valid form of religious expression.

Chief Justice Berch writes on behalf of the unanimous court that the courts have allowed users of peyote to use federal laws to shield them from prosecution against state drug laws, and that there is “”an obvious difference”” between that situation and what is occurring here.

“”Members of the Native American Church assert only the religious right to use peyote in limited sacramental rites,”” the chief justice wrote. “”Hardesty asserts the right to use marijuana whenever he pleases, including while driving.””

Simply put, your right to freedom of religion ends where the rest of the laws begin.

Because of Hardesty’s claim that he should be allowed to use marijuana when and where he wants, in the name of his religion, Justice Berch said nothing short of an outright ban will protect the public interest.

Justice Berch also said there is a long line of case law showing that marijuana poses a threat to individual health and social welfare.

Justice Berch is basically saying that marijuana is a threat to society’s happiness.

Justice Berch clearly has never smoked pot.

On any given Saturday night those who are stumbling drunk into the streets and causing fights inside Dirtbags pose more of a common threat then any stoner.

Daniel DeRienzo, one of Hardesty’s attorneys, has criticized the position of prosecutors that allowing church members to use marijuana would result in serious harm. He called that “”the ‘Reefer Madness’ argument,”” referring to a 1936 propaganda film that claimed high schoolers lured into using marijuana engaged in manslaughter, suicide and rape, and descended into madness.

The only thing I see marijuana users engaging in is a bag of Doritos and a quarter pounder from McDonalds. Or, maybe the occasional California burrito from Los Betos and a Thirstbuster. 

I don’t think anyone has tried to say, “”I smoke meth for religious purposes; it brings a connection to the divine mind and spiritual enlightenment.””

In no way, shape or form would anyone truly consider that Ephedrine, (cold and allergy medications and diet tablets) red phosphorus, (strike pate on match covers and in highway flares) acetone, household solvents, nail polish, alcohol, (denatured or isopropyl) ether, (engine starting fluid) hydrogen peroxide, battery acid, table/rock salt or farm fertilizer brings any sort of connection to any divine mind.

Those ingredients create the true recipes for descending into madness.

Marijuana is nothing more than a healing herb. Not a dangerous drug.

Somewhere down the road, society has been conditioned to think otherwise.

In a way, Tuesday’s ruling is less a test of freedom of religion and more of a check and wake up call on the government’s ability to put a ban on personal freedom.

— Tiffany Kimmell is a journalism senior. She can be reached at

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