Ninth Circuit Court Affirms Eddy Lepp Conviction | Hawai`i News Daily

Ninth Circuit Court Affirms Eddy Lepp Conviction

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals - SealThe Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has affirmed the 2008 conviction of marijuana advocate and Cannabis Reverend Charles Edward “Eddy” Lepp.

Lepp was convicted in 2008 of  conspiracy after federal agents discovered 32,000 Cannabis plants on his Lake County property. His 10-year prison term began in 2009.

In a memorandum, Circuit Court Judges Silverman and Graber, and District Court Judge Lynn said that Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the District Court did not err when she denied Lepp’s motion to seek a defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).

The Court said that extant Marijuana  possession and manufacturing laws were the “least restrictive means” of preventing Lepp from distributing “sacramental marijuana” to non-religious users:

Applying the criminal laws prohibiting possession and manufacture of marijuana to Lepp is the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s compelling interest in preventing diversion of sacramental marijuana to non-religious users. C.f. United States v. Bauer, 84 F.3d 1549, 1559 (9th Cir. 1996) (declining to exclude the possibility that “the government may show that the least restrictive means of preventing the sale and distribution of marijuana is the universal enforcement of the marijuana laws”); contra Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418, 433 (2006). (source)

Lepp sought a hearing under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act where he hoped to establish that his church contained some 2500 members, and that he was personally sincere in his religious practice as a “Marijuana Minister”.

The Court said the District Court had not abused its discretion when it denied Lepp an evidentiary hearing on his RFRA Motion because the District Court had previously stated that the size of Lepp’s church would not effect its ruling.

The Court also cited the “open fields and plain view doctrines”, which gave the District Court authority to admit evidence seized during a raid on Lepp’s rural property in 2004. Likewise, the Court found the District Court did not err when it allowed evidence obtained during a 2005 “sting” in which federal agents said they purchased one pound of marijuana from Lepp. The evidence was used to impeach Lepp’s testimony during his 2008 trial.

The Circuit Court denied Lepp’s motion to dismiss the case on the basis of “outrageous government conduct”, stating also that the 10-year statutory minimum sentence imposed by the District Court was not “cruel and unusual punishment under the Eight Amendment”.

The memorandum is available here.


Gonzales v. O Centro

Unemployment Division v. Smith

U.S. v. Bauer


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  • Telarus, KSC

    So Eddy didn’t get the “strict scrutiny” which he UDV case got….. only the “compelling interest” test.

    Do you know what NIDA says about the diversion of Synthetic Cannabinoids (the ones turning up in the ‘incense’, like Spice)?

    Now, keep in mind that the inventor of one of these substances (a medical researcher here in the states), warns that these (synthetic) substances have a much higher chance of abuse because of their singular chemical composition, and may have unseen-as-yet side effects including the possibility of death from overdose (not possible with vegetable cannabinoids). The answer to my question is below, directly from a Federal Agency (pay special attention to the last line).

    A NIDA spokesperson defended the agency’s funding for Huffman’s research, saying that studying “artificial variations of brain chemicals … has yielded major research and clinical advances.”

    Research into cannabinoids, said the spokesperson, “has the potential to usher in the next generation of pain medications,” as well as possible treatments for obesity and multiple sclerosis.”

    “The scientific record demonstrates that the cost of discontinuing the pursuit of potentially life-saving medications, because such compounds could be illegally diverted and abused, would be unacceptably high.”

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  • Scott sharpe

    So sad what has become of our country. Rev Eddy is in jail and the Daniel Mudd, then CEO of Fannie Mae, as well as every banking exec and politician behind the mortgage fiasco is free as a kite. Let’s fix this mess. Legalize cannabis and End The Fed. Get up out of your chair and vote Ron Paul as president in 2012.

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  • Billy Whitehead

    Its a shame and unconstitutional to reest any citizen for ossessing or growing a natural plant. This government is corrupt and needs to be changed. I am a soldier in the U.S. Army and I am ashamed to fight for this kind of corruption. I am serving for the people like eddy lepp, not for the feds or government. I am a soldier for the people. Not tyrannical leaders. This kind of stuff akes me shamed to be an american, and the people enforcing these acts are th ones that need to be arrested. They are the ones breaking the laws of the constitution. Its time to stand up and fight back america these officers and politicians are taking your freedoms away. Stand up to them

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  • Matt

    for those who wish to write Rev Eddy, his address is:

    Charles Eddy Lepp
    FDC Lompoc
    3705 West Farm Road
    Lompoc, CA 93436

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