Big Island church leader pleads guilty to marijuana charges

The head of a Hawaii Island ministry pled guilty Friday to marijuana charges.

Roger Christie changed his plea after reaching an agreement with federal prosecutors.

Christie’s wife Cher is also charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

She is free on bail.

The two claimed they’re innocent because marijuana is a sacrament in their church.

The guilty plea leaves open an appeal to the 9th district court.

“Bottom line, you take away the ministry and what you have is a person acting just like a drug trafficker, in any other way, shape or form. The kind of person that the controlled substances act was designed to prohibit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara said.

“The district court judge in this case has ruled as a matter of law that the THC ministry is a legitimate ministry and that Roger and Cher were sincere in those beliefs. That is a ruling by a federal court judge,” Christie’s attorney Thomas Otake said.

Roger Christie remains in federal custody awaiting sentencing which is scheduled for January.

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