Law | Opinion

Ruth Hopkins: Fake Indians claim religious right to marijuana

James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney serves as the leader of a group called the Oklevueha Native American Church. Photo from Facebook

Ruth Hopkins calls out the Oklevueha Native American Church for claiming that marijuana use is part of Native spirituality:
Recently, officers in Sonoma County, California, confiscated marijuana plants from the Oklevueha Native American Church. Members of the church say the plants are sacred and used ceremonially. They’ve since taken the matter to Federal Court, suing Sonoma County, its Sheriff, and the Governor of California, claiming they’ve been discriminated against under the Constitution of the state of California, and alleging rights violations under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. The group is seeking an injunction and praying for damages as a remedy.

Oklevueha members assert that marijuana is integral to their sacraments, just like peyote.

There’s just one problem. It’s not. While I’m not a member of the Native American Church, I practice Dakota/Lakota spirituality, and marijuana has not, nor has it ever been, used as a part of ceremony. While some species of hemp have always grown in the western hemisphere, the marijuana people smoke today is native to Asia. It’s propagation in the Americas is relatively new. I also know a few individuals who put weed in their canupa (sacred pipe), and were shunned for it.

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins: Pot and Pretendians (Indian Country Today 12/21)

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