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Roger Christie released to halfway house

A Hilo marijuana minister who has been in federal custody since his ministry was raided more than four years ago has been released from jail to a halfway house in Honolulu.

Roger Christie was released from the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu on Thursday, according to his wife, Share Christie. He is still considered a federal inmate, and the Bureau of Prisons website lists his release date as Nov. 14.

Christie was sentenced in April by U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi to five years in prison for one count of conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana plants.

He received credit for time already served in jail.

The 65-year-old Christie is the founder of The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry — which is also known as the THC Ministry — in downtown Hilo. The Kamehameha Avenue ministry was raided on July 8, 2010, and 284 marijuana plants were confiscated.

Christie was arrested, along with 13 others, including Sherryanne “Share” St. Cyr, who later married Christie.

The others were released on bail, but Roger Christie was deemed “a danger to the community” by Federal Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang, and Christie was denied bail, despite repeated requests. He had been incarcerated since.

Another would-be co-defendant, Wesley Sudbury, could not be found, and has been a fugitive since.

Prosecutors described Christie’s ministry as a a front for a drug distribution ring, while Christie said his religion is based on helping people heal through the “sacrament” of medical marijuana.

The Christies pleaded guilty after Kobayashi ruled they could not use the the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense.

As part of his sentence, Christie was also put on four years supervised release, the federal equivalent of probation. Kobayashi said she would have preferred to sentence him to only a year supervised release, but federal sentencing guidelines didn’t allow that.

Share Christie was sentenced in April to 27 months in prison but remains free while she appeals her sentence.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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