Steven Swallick faces up to 10 years in prison
VIERA — A Brevard County jury today convicted a 53-year-old man, who said he uses marijuana for religious and health purposes, of illegally harvesting more than 100 of the plants in his Palm Bay home.
It took a jury 14 minutes to convict self-proclaimed minister Steven Swallick following a two-day trial.
Circuit Judge Jim Earp wouldn’t let him testify about his use of marijuana for religious purposes.
But as part of a motion asking the judge to allow the evidence, Swallick testified outside of the jury’s presence that he is affiliated with the Hawaiian Cannabis Ministries, which mandates use of the drug.
“I do inhale it. I do use it as an anointing oil. I do ingest it as a food product. There are over 25,000 beneficial uses for the plant,” Swallick said.
Sentencing is set for 8 a.m. Dec. 11.
In an interview with WFTV, Swallick claims this Bible verse includes a reference to Cannabis:
“Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.” – Exodus 30:23-25
Swallick was arrested in 2008 after police found a large marijuana grow operation in his Palm Bay house. His only defense was that he uses pot for religious reasons.
Steven Swallick says he runs a ministry about marijuana. He says he mixed the marijuana with other ingredients to create anointing oil, a recipe he says he got out of the Bible.
But the jury didn’t have to address the religious issue, just whether he grew it, possessed it and stole electricity to do it.
The 53-year-old says he was ordained through the Universal Life Church, a group which will ordain just about anybody almost instantaneously on the Internet. Swallick was prevented from discussing what he claims are religious uses of marijuana in front of the jury. The judge declared there was no evidence he practiced any recognized form of religion.
Steven Swallick talks about his weed-based ministry (video)
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