Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Court of Appeals Harshes Bogus Religion's Pot Buzz

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 5:10 PM


No, you can't have special permission to smoke weed because you're part of a non-religious religion, said the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to Marc Perkel, founder of the Church of Reality.

While smoking weed twelve years ago in Springfield, Missouri, Perkel came up with the idea for the Church of Reality, a "reality-based" religion that embraces smoking pot as a gateway to inspire creative thinking and "really good ideas." It has since become a tax-exempt non-profit and amassed thousands of followers. The church philosophy, according to the Web site, is essentially this: "If it's real, we believe in it."

Though not necessary for Church of Reality practice, weed is apparently a really important aspect. So eventually Perkel decided to ask the Drug Enforcement Administration for an weed exemption from the Controlled Substance Act under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The DEA said no way.

It likely didn't help that the Church of Reality exactly a religion (founder Perkel begs to differ). Even if it was, the inability to lawfully smoke weed doesn't impose a substantial burden on the exercising members, the DEA said.  

Perkel wasn't satisfied that. He filed a petition for a review of the order with the 9th Circuit, stating that Marijuana "has been misclassified and is a relatively harmless substance" used by church members to "inspire creative thinking, for medical purposes, relaxation, and socially -- like social drinking." He admitted, though, that the drug isn't consumed during any particular ritual or ceremony and that its prohibition would not coerce the members to act contrary to their beliefs (or, uh, non-beliefs).  

Perkel's best argument, according to the court's denial of his petition, was that withholding weed causes members "a diminishment of spiritual fulfillment." Still, this didn't quite quality him for protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Bummer!

H/T   |   Courthouse News


*This story has been corrected from an original version that misstated where and when Marc Perkel first conceived of the Church of Reality. It was twelve years ago, while he smoked pot in Springfield, Missouri. Mr. Perkel would also like to say, for the record, that the Church of Reality is a religion that he believes is entitled to Schedule I drugs. He'll be appealing the court's decision. 

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Ashley Harrell


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"