A Utah Native American Church sues the federal government for seizing 5 ounces of marijuana it sent in the mail to a cancer patient who uses the medicine religiously for holistic health and healing. The church and cancer patient, Joy Graves, who are strong supporters of the plant medicine site the basis of the lawsuit was that the government broke freedom of free religious practice rights, stating the marijuana was part of a spiritual and religious practice.
Joy Graves and James “Flaming Eagle” Mooney, founder of the Native American Church, sued the federal government demanding that they be able to ship marijuana for spiritual practices where ever they choose because federal religious freedom laws were being broke by the unlawful seizure. The church sited that peyote and other naturally occurring plant medicines have been used for religious practices all over the world for centuries and the government has no right to control personal freedoms of choice to use these medications. The church stated it aims to go to the wall with the federal government on this one.
“All I know is that Joy is extremely dedicated to her medicine, and we will continue to support her with everything we have,” Mooney said of the medicine woman. “We will go to the wall for her because she is so pure in her intent to serve her fellow human beings.”
The Utah Oklevueha Native American Church stated in its complaint that it boasts “thousands of members in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Africa.” Membership into the church is a one-time payment of $200 and reading the group’s code of ethics. Veterans and active duty service members get a 90 percent discount, and they can get their own membership card for just $20.
The church sees the marijuana as a healing plant and also a way to interact with other spirits. The church receives scrutiny from other Native American communities stating that they are making a mockery of the true native spirit and that the founder is not of true native decent though the church has claimed AIRFA (American Indian Religious Freedoms Act) have been impeded upon by the federal government action. AIRFA is designed specifically to protect and preserve “the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians.”
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