|Robert Henry: “My growing and smoking, it harms no one.”|
A Pennsylvania man who says he smokes marijuana daily for religious reasons was sentenced to a lengthy prison term on Wednesday after telling the judge that he is being persecuted for his spiritual beliefs.
Robert Henry, 51, formerly of Fannettsburg, was given a sentence of 6.5 to 13 years in prison for growing and selling cannabis, reports Myles Snyder at WHTM.
A jury last month found him guilty of “manufacturing marijuana” with intent to deliver, conspiracy, and possession of “drug paraphernalia.” Henry reportedly wore a T-shirt featuring a marijuana leaf and the words, “I Am Not A Criminal” and “Legalize Marijuana” to his trial on April 14. At Wednesday’s hearing, he had on an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles.
Franklin County Senior Judge John Walker also ordered Henry to pay $50,500 in fines, undergo a drug treatment program and avoid contact with his codefendants in the case, reports Jim Tuttle at Public Opinion.
“I liken what the government is doing to me to the way the Nazis treated the Jews during World War II,” Henry said.
|Photo: Public Opinion|
|Robert Henry: “I smoke all day long.”|
He called it “a political issue” and said he believes legalization will happen soon, pointing out that Californians nearly passed a legalization initiative last year.
“Unfortunately, you’re not in California,” said Judge Walker, evidently something of a smart-ass. “Unfortunately, it’s against the law.”
Judge Walker asked Henry why he was running an operation that included two mobile homes full of marijuana plants if he was only growing for personal use. The judge speculated a person “would have to smoke 12 or 14 hours a day” to consume that amount of pot.
“I do,” Henry said. “I smoke all day long.”
Henry said he had been employed in the construction business for about a decade, and that his employers knew about his marijuana use and didn’t care, as long as he did his work.
“I think marijuana should be legalized,” Henry said. “My growing and smoking, it harms no one.”
Prosecutors claimed Henry was, in early 2010, directing another person to grow the cannabis while he himself was in prison for a 2008 conviction on “drug manufacturing” charges in Cumberland County.
The marijuana minister faces even more charges stemming from a pot bust earlier this month.
State police said they went after him after he didn’t show up for his first sentencing hearing, and they found him tending to a plot of more than 100 marijuana plants on a makeshift campsite in Lurgan Township.
A search of the property turned up three additional patches of marijuana totaling 116 plants, along with about five pounds of dried cannabis, police claimed.
The cops claimed the (of course, mythical) “street value” of the pot was $200,000. Why do sucker cops always get ripped off so badly on their weed?
At his trial in Cumberland County, Henry told the jury he is an ordained minister and member of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, which regards the use of marijuana as a religious sacrament. (Keep Henry’s conviction and long prison sentence in mind if you’re ever tempted to believe these Hawaii Cannabis Ministry guys when they tell you they can help keep you out of trouble.)
Henry testified that he smokes pot every day as a way to “communicate with the Lord,” and said he wanted to start his own cannabis ministry.
“Clearly, Mr. Henry has no regard for the law,” Assistant District Attorney Eric Augustine said.
The minister is scheduled to be arraigned on August 3 on the new charges of “manufacturing a controlled substance” (which is what cops call it when you grow marijuana, to make it sound more dangerous), criminal conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
As sheriff’s deputies were leading him out of the courtroom, Henry said to Judge Walker that his religion requires him to break the law.
“OK, well, keep practicing it,” the sarcastic judge said.
“I’m going to,” Henry replied.