Court: Religion No Defense for Drugs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a man accused of importing marijuana to Guam cannot invoke religion as a defense.

The 3-0 decision overturns the Guam Supreme Court, which had said marijuana use was fundamental to the practice of Rastafarianism. The territory's Supreme Court also ruled that Guam's drug prosecution of a Rastafarian violated his right to freely exercise religion.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying Guam could prosecute Benny Guerrero for allegedly importing marijuana.

Guerrero was arrested in 1991 after he allegedly was found with about 7 ounces of marijuana at A.B. Won Pat International Airport. He claimed he is a member of the Rastafarian religion, and that use of marijuana is a required canon of his faith.

Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean, is about 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.

One of Guerrero's attorneys, Graham Boyd of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling.