Colorado man: Pot charge violates religious rights

AVON, Colo. -- A Colorado man says marijuana is the main sacrament of his religion and a drug charge against him violates his First Amendment rights.

Trevor Douglas of Avon says he belongs to the Hawaii-based THC Ministry but was cited with marijuana possession after a Colorado state trooper pulled him over for having an expired license plate. The 25-year-old allegedly had less than an ounce of marijuana and a pipe.

Douglas told the Vail Daily newspaper that his religion is similar to Christianity and that the use of pot is sacred to him, just like wine and bread are sacred to Christians.

"The court is basically trying me for my religious beliefs," he told the newspaper.

According to its Web site, THC Ministry has offices in Los Angeles; Bozeman, Mont.; and Boulder, Colo.

"We use Cannabis religiously and you can, too," the site says. "Cultivation and enjoyment of Cannabis sacrament is a fundamental human right provided by God and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

THC Ministry says it provides "defense to prosecution" to its members who are "sincere practitioners." According to its Web site, a successful religious defense depends on five things, including sincerity; that marijuana be used in private, like in a church or home; and that the drug, or "sacrament," not be sold.

Douglas is due in court March 9.

He maintains he is not a drug abuser.

"If it's part of your religion, you should get security from this prosecution of possession," he said.