Susanne Lenore Friend, 48, and her husband, Timothy M. Mann, 59, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 284 marijuana plants at their Honoka’a farm. In February, Michael B. “Dewey” Shapiro, 63, pleaded guilty of conspiracy to possess and distribute 284 marijuana plants. In exchange for his plea, three other marijuana-related charges were dropped. Two more defendants are scheduled to plead guilty this month.
All the defendants are saying they agreed to grow marijuana for Hilo resident Roger Christie’s THC Ministry. Christie founded his THC Ministry in 2000. It offered marijuana, cannabis, as part of its religious services. Christie and 13 others were indicted by a Federal Grant Jury in Honolulu on marijuana possession and trafficking charges. Charges against Christie are that he knowingly and intentionally” conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana along with harvested and processed pot and other products containing pot such as food, tinctures and oils.
Christie remains in the Honolulu Federal Detention Center. He has been denied bail, with the judge saying Christie was a danger to society. The Facebook page for the THC Ministry reports that his wife, Sherryanne L. St. Cyr, was allowed to visit him just a week ago for the first time since he was arrested 20 months ago.
Christie has maintained that his use of marijuana was as a religious sacrament, and that the cultivation and enjoyment of it is a fundamental human right provided by God and protected by the First Amendment. He has run for office, including for Hawaii County Mayor, several times, on a platform of legalizing marijuana.
Hawaii’s medical marijuana law allows a person who has a physician’s certification to possess a certain amount of marijuana to treat a debilitating condition. There is no federal medical marijuana law.