A Toronto church — the “Church of the Universe” — asked a Superior Court judge Wednesday for an exemption to the country’s marijuana laws.
The Church of the Universe views cannabis as a sacred substance whose consumption brings them closer to God, lawyers Paul Lewin and George Filipovic asserted.
It’s believed to be the first time a Canadian court has been asked to define whether a religion’s illegal practices are protected by the Charter of Rights.
“They believe cannabis is the Tree of Life and that consuming and sharing of it puts them in a more peaceful and reflective state where they are closer to God,” the lawyers wrote in documents filed in court.
“They believe that cannabis consumption, although joyous, is not an end in itself but rather it is an important part of the road to greater understanding of God and the universe.”
The religion teaches that Jesus Christ was anointed with a holy oil, which had a key ingredient of “keneh bosom,” which translates as cannabis, court heard.
The lawyers represent Brothers Peter Styrsky and Shahrooz Kharaghani, minister-members of the Beaches Mission of God, Assembly of The Church of the Universe at 1905 Queen St. E.
The pacifist and humanitarian church has two golden rules: Do not hurt yourself and do not hurt others.
By outlawing marijuana, the state is infringing on the Universe church-goers’ charter right of freedom of religion, the lawyers said.