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Name: People v. Rubin
Case #: B201672
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 12/01/2008

Under both the United States and the California constitutions, religious belief is protected but religiously motivated conduct is not and remains subject to regulation for the protection of society. A narcotics officer visited Temple 420 in Hollywood where appellant introduced himself as the owner and said that the temple was a church in which members could buy marijuana. The officer subsequently purchased a quantity of marijuana at the temple. A later search of the temple produced nine pounds of marijuana, scales, pay-owe sheets, and paraphernalia. Appellant was charged with sale and possession of marijuana for sale. At the jury trial, the court denied appellant’s request and excluded reference to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religious freedom unless it is in the furtherance of a government interest and is the least restrictive means possible. The appellate court upheld the exclusion, noting that the RFRA is unconstitutional as it does not apply to state law and does not override California drug laws. Focusing on appellant’s prosecution for sale and possession for sale, the court also found that a state may prohibit religiously inspired drug use without violating the First Amendment and that appellant’s claim of mistake of law did not apply to these facts.