Roger Christie: An American Political Prisoner

Roger Christie arrived on the windward side of this Moku Nui (Big island) in the mid 80’s and knew it was the place for him. Pahoa town in lower Puna offered the perfect lifestyle for a young, dynamic, blue-eyed counter-culture guy and his VW camper bus.   One didn’t need a Phd in “Ganjanomics” to see that Pakalolo was the de-facto economy of this tropical style, Wild West island frontier.   Ever the dynamic optimist, Roger and  Aloha were a match made in heaven.   He established himself in a rickety, termite infested storefront in downtown Pahoa,  and became the “go-to” guy for anything and everything to do with Hemp and Cannabis legalization, promotion, education, politics and activism.  Perfect career choice, for anyone who has a knack for shaking up the status quo.

” I moved to Maui in 1985 from San Francisco to have a new start in life after a relationship break-up.  I was on Maui for almost a year when I decided to visit the Big Island for a short vacation.  One hour in Hilo was all it took for me to fall in love with it.  I remember it well; Columbus Day October 12, 1986.  I checked-in to the Lanakai Hotel, now the Wild Ginger Inn.  As I breathed-in the atmosphere and the ocean air I looked at the guest register and there was ‘bud shake’ all over it as if someone had just rolled a joint right there!  The Manager happily offered me the shake and said, “sign right here”.  I was hooked!  :-}  The funky architecture, the laid-back, local lifestyle, the lack of tourists, Mauna Kea, the weather, all the fresh water, cheap land and rent, the Cannabis!  It all added-up to me, settling very happily on the windward side of Moku Nui, the Big Island of Hawai’i and calling it my new home.  Ganjaloha!”

By the early nineties he had opened up the state’s first hemp retail store, Hawaiian Hemp Company in Pahoa,  with two partners, Aaron Anderson and Dwight Kondo. Things got interesting, though,  when Aaron and Roger,  got busted for importing USDA/DEA approved hemp seeds (bird seeds).  They were planning to offer a special hemp seed banquet and had ordered 25 pounds of the de-natured seeds.  Hawaii County police pounced on the shipment and made the arrest.   But like rotten chicken eggs,  it all blew up in the court room when certain shenanigans came under the Judge’s scrutiny.   From the prosecuting attorney’s inter-office memos, it was discovered that Roger and Aaron were, in fact, arrested for their vocal hemp activism.  (There’s that First Amendment violation thingy, again)   Then, two law enforcement personel, looking to frame the business duo,  had attempted to sprout some of the  seeds and swapped out a few of the de-natured ones for the psychoactive variety.    It took less than 5 minutes for the Judge to heave the whole stinking pile into the rubbish can, wherein, Roger and his partner turned around and sued the Prosecuting Attorney’s office for damages and lost revenue, and won a whopping $75,000 settlement.  The pair, in fact, prosecuted the prosecutor for “selective prosecution” since anyone else could have purchased these seeds without impugnity.   The outcome of this  must NOT have sat well in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.  Being that Revenge is always a dish best served COLD,  many have wondered if there wasn’t some long term vendetta against the two.   But, that’s just speculation.   Cannabis Culture Magazine wrote about the incident,   ” Hawaii Hemp Heroes “,  in 2003.

Twenty four years on this island has firmly secured Roger’s  reputation as the island’s “Cannabis activist Minister”.  Along the way, he has garnered his fare share of publicity, notoriety and controversy.  He has been labeled and accused of many transgressions and expletives,  including charlatan, fake, sinister, greedy, deceptive, Holy man, ganja man, drug dealer,  and most recently, “DANGER to the community”.   This articulate, humble, personable and gentlemanly minister has run for mayor twice, and in 2000 won the Drug Policy Alliance of Hawaii’s Ho’omaluhia Award (peacemaker).    He exposed the “marijuana eradication program”  as the cause of the vicious meth epidemic, after he’d run across a suppressed government-funded study and with that in hand, stood before the county council, revealing the unintended consequences of  the devastating Green Harvest missions.

Roger has helped to pioneer the use of hemp foods and clothing and to get the only hemp research facility in the USA approved for Hawai’i.  He wrote the lawsuit that resulted in grounding of all marijuana eradication helicopters in the year 2000 on the big island.  In one of the most celebrated initiatives, he was behind the Peaceful Sky/Lowest Level of Law enforcement Priority Cannabis Initiative.  This allowed citizens to have 24 plants or 24 ounces.  It wasn’t exactly decriminalization, just lowest level priority for law enforcement.   He stayed behind the scenes on this one to make it work, and a great team effort helped it to pass on election day 2008.  A grant from the Marijuana Policy Project added some critical funding and helped to secure a resounding 58% YES vote.

High Times Magazine thought the 24 plant/lowest level deal  was “da bomb” and gave Hawaii County an honorable mention as one of the Top Ten Cities for obtaining herbs.  (Shoots brah, the Big Island isn’t even close to being a city!)  Unfortunately, Hawaii County  refuses to honor this  law as Green Harvest helicopters were out in force during the recent harvest season.  The county prosecutor’s office wave it off,  saying that State and Federal laws trump the will of the people.   Still, plenty pakas make it into the barn.   The real fun part about this war on plants is that with all the herbs floating around, the prices have plummeted to about $125-$200/oz.  Oh, and to clarify, that was the price at harvest time.  It’s probably higher now.

It would be an understatement to say he has been a powerful force in bringing change and liberation of hemp/cannabis to the State of Hawaii.  It did take teamwork.  He has aligned himself with other local activists to initiate change for hemp, medical marijuana and religious use of Cannabis sacrament, including Aaron Anderson, Dwight Kondo, Pastor Jim Kimmell, Rev. Jonathan Adler (R.I.P.), Rev. Dennis Shields, Pastor Ray Christl and many more dedicated people over the last twenty four years.  Roger also credits his significant others with invaluable support over the years.

Roger is one of those individuals that finds blessings in every situation.  He exudes graciousness and genteel manners, a product of his upbringing.  A true maverick kind of guy, he’s charismatic and articulate, rarely swears, treats his 83 year old mother like a Queen, and has many friends, admirers and fans.  He does have a  “rockstar” aura about him with an arresting handsomeness  and youthful appearance.  The dark brown hair is just what his mama gave him.  Everyone asks if his hair is really that color.  His girlfriend and partner,  Share, does verify that Grecian Formula is NOT on the shopping list.   (Did I mention that Cannabis is a youth elixir?)

Roger’s account of himself:

“I’m a American baby boomer guy who was really into the peace and love culture back in the late 1960’s and 70’s.  I saw lots of good that happened to our generation from the happy, healthy use of Cannabis.  Organic farming, questioning authority, communes, food co-ops, natural/home birthing, great music everywhere, the Mother Earth News, Whole Earth Catalog type lifestyles, hippies, anti-war activists, experimenting with almost everything, hitchhiking, Jesus freaks, Krishna’s and drop-outs and so much more with virtually everyone using ‘marijuana’.  It was a very promising and uplifting era and lots of fun and political stresses, too … until the ‘war on marijuana’ came along and put an end to the generational party.  The government couldn’t ‘get us’ for our politics, but they found out that when they take away the Cannabis, they usually take away the protests.

My personal morality prevented me from serving in the US Army as a trained ‘intelligence analyst’ back in the Vietnam war, but I willingly volunteered for civilian duty as an intelligence analyst for WE THE PEOPLE who use Cannabis.  My journey led me to the Religious Science Church of Hilo for fellowship and metaphysics ‘practitioner’ training back in the late 1980’s on the big island.  The Religion of Jesus Church then showed me how to blend Cannabis and spirituality together for my highest good as a “sacrament”.  “A sacrament is the visible form of an invisible grace.”  according to St. Augustine.  I got it.  Made perfect sense to me as I was not a ‘patient’ in need of marijuana medicine, other than to reduce the stresses of life and as a barrier to alcohol. Some of my heroes have been Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa, William Wallace (Braveheart), Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.

One would expect that a such a controversial Cannabis minister would have at the least a few bothersome detractors to make life interesting.  How does Roger deal with these naysayers?  Why he blesses them!  He truly believes that everything in Life is a learning opportunity and has been deeply, and profoundly inspired by the esteemed Puna professor of Aloha, Serge Kahili King,  whose personal mantra is all about BLESSING transgressions and showing gratitude for lessons learned.   This philosophy has its foundation in the ancient Hawaiian path of Huna .  The professor wrote, ” The Little Pink Booklet of Aloha ”  which Roger loves to give to anyone who comes into his life.

This Peacemaker, Minister, educator, liberator, humanitarian and “Little Pink Booklet of Aloha” giver, has  been declared “a danger to the community” by the US Federal Prosecutor and five 9th Circuit Court  judges and has been denied bail 5 times in decisions that are obviously ‘political’, not legal or ‘reasonable’ according to law.

He IS a Political Prisoner, since no other explanation makes any sense.

Article excerpted from Who’s Afraid of the Big Island’s Cannabis Minister?