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A Big Island judge has granted a request by marijuana advocate Jonathan
Adler for a jury trial on felony drug charges.

Adler, 48, was indicted by a grand jury and charged with second - degree
commercial promotion of marijuana, a class B felony punishable by up to 10
years in prison. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

The indictment was related to an arrest on Aug. 26, 1998, following a
marijuana eradication operation the previous day.

Police said they found 89 marijuana plants, 15 stalks believed to be from
marijuana plants, smoking pipes and containers with marijuana residue at
Adler's 19th Street home in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

After the indictment, Adler planned to go to trial using a medical
marijuana defense, but Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that the defense
was not valid because Hawaii's medical marijuana law was not in effect at
that time, according to Adler's attorney, Mike Glenn.

Adler and prosecutors had decided to submit mutually agreed upon facts to
the judge and then Adler would appeal a guilty verdict to the Hawaii
Supreme Court, claiming he should have been allowed to use the medical
marijuana defense.

Glenn filed papers in court earlier this month, however, requesting a jury
trial for his client. He said Adler refused to sign the agreement because
prosecutors wouldn't stipulate that Adler's marijuana was for medical purposes.

"Defendant believes he has solid legal grounds to prevail at trial and
welcomes his day in court to prove to the state that he is obeying the law
and is not a criminal," Glenn wrote.

At a court hearing Friday, Nakamura granted the request for a jury trial
and set the three - day trial to begin on June 5.

Glenn told the Tribune - Herald that when the case goes before the jury, he
will present a religious defense. Adler says that he is a minister in the
Religion of Jesus Church and that his church requires marijuana as a sacrament.

Glenn acknowledged that Adler is "not a good poster boy" for the cause but
said his client is sincere. "It's the principles, not the person, that I'm
fighting for," Glenn said.

Adler, who launched two failed campaigns for mayor and one for a County
Council seat, said he's happy the case is moving forward.

"I've been waiting patiently since my first public pronouncement at the
prosecutor's office in 1991, when Dennis Shields and I both made a complete
presentation for our prosecutor, Jay Kimura, regarding our religious
protection for using cannabis," Adler said. "We have never heard any
acknowledgment from him."

Shields also used a religious defense in a 1997 trial on a misdemeanor
marijuana charge. He was convicted and sentenced to one year probation.

Glenn said the Shields jury voted for a conviction because they didn't
believe marijuana was mandated by his church. Following Shields' verdict,
the church changed its rules and made it obligatory for members to use the
drug as a sacrament.

Newshawk: Rev. Dennis Shields
Pubdate: Sun, 29 Apr 2001
Source: Hawaii-Tribune Herald (HI)
Copyright: 2001 Hawaii Tribune Herald
Contact: editor@hawaiitribune-herald.com
Website: http://www.hilohawaiitribune.com/
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Chris Loos, Tribune-Herald
Bookmark: Overload Warning (Cannabis - Medicinal)
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