The EZCC, which traces its origins back 6,000 years, is 

headquartered in Jamaica. [footnote 40]  By the end of the Sixties, the 

Church had received a number of visitors from the U.S. and began allowing 

Caucasians to join the Church. [fotnote 41]  As a result, priests and 

members of the Church began to travel back and forth between the U.S. and 

Jamaica, and a number of U.S. citizens became members and priests in the 

Church. [footnote 42]  The Church was incorporated in 1976 and purchased 

a 1,000 acre farm in White Horse, St Thomas parish, Jamaica. [footnote 

43]  In addition, the Church purchased a residence for its members at 

Star Island in Miami, Florida. [footnote 44] 

     Church members consider themselves the historical and spiritual 

descendants of the Israelites of the Old Testament. [footnote 45] 

Whittingham, 19 Ariz. App. 27, 504 P.2d 950 (1973), cert. denied, 417 
U.S. 946 (1974); Peoiple v. Woody, 61 Cal. 2d 716, 40 Cal. Rptr. 69, 394 
P.2d 813 (1964); Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12-22-317 (West 1990); Iowa Code 
Ann. § 204.204(8) (West 1987); Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-4116(8) (Supp. 1989); 
Minn. Stat. § 152.02 (West 1989); Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 453.541 (Michie 
1986); N.M. Stat. Ann. 30-31-6(D) (Michie 1989); S.D. Codified Laws § 34-
20B-14(17) (Michie Supp. 1990); Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 4476-15 
(Vernon Supp. 1991); Wis. Stat. Ann. § 161.115 (West 1989); Wyo. Stat.  
Ann. § 35-7-1044 (1988). 

     [footnote 40]  Amicus Memorandum Before DEA, July 1988, at 6-7. 

     [footnote 41] Id. at 11. 

     [footnote 42] Id. 

     [footnote 43] Id. at 10. 

     [footnote 44] Id. 

     [footnote 45] Id. at 7. The EZCC distinguishes itself from the 
Rastafarian sect because the EZCC does not revere the late Emperor of 
Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, as a deity.  Id. at 10. 


Because of the constraints of slavery, however, the Church's written 

history did not evolve and does not compare with the organizational 

identity enjoyed by some Caucasian religions. [footnote 46]  Nonetheless, 

the Church is understood to be a Christian religion with Jesus as its 

primary prophet. [footnote 47]  The Church reveres the Bible as its holy 

book, and members adhere to traditions set forth in the Old Testament 

regarding diet, dress, grooming, sexual conduct, and so forth. [footnote 


     "The Church historically has been extremely restrictive in its 

membership practices, limiting membership to those men and women who 

demonstrate an acceptance and adherence to the Church's tenets over a 

significant period of time." [footnote 49]  If members fail to follow the 

Church's rules of conduct, they are subject to harsh 

     [footnote 46]  Id. at 8. 

     [footnote 47]  Id. at 7-8.  Marcus Garvey is considered one of the 
Church's great prophets.  Id.  His work in the 1920s and 30s advocating 
spirituality and black empowerment related to the general movement called 
"Ethiopianism ... is premised on a belief that all blacks share a common 
ancestry and are destined to return to a common homeland or Zion, 
symbolically identified as Ethiopia."  Id. at 9.  The goal of the Church 
in this regard is the "liberation of the black race and the spiritual 
renewal of black and white believers."  Id. at 7. 

     [footnote 48]  Id. at 7. 

     [footnote 49]  Id. at 11.  Membership involves a ritual called 
confession.  Id.  First, the confessor renounces the sins of the flesh 
and the material world.  Id. at 12.  Next, when the elders think that the 
individual has fully learned the tenets of the Church, the individual 
makes a public confession before the members.  After this, the members 
demonstrate their acceptance of the new member through the celebration of 
communion with marijuana.  Id. at 11-13. 


sanctions and sometimes expulsion. [footnote 50] 

     The EZCC traces its use of marijuana [footnote 51] to the Bible, 

citing passages regarding herbs, smoke, and clouds, [footnote 52] and 

stating that 

     "marijuana is the [e)ucharistic spiritual body and 
     blood of Christ," and "[o]nly through the sacramental 
     use of marijuana--combined with prayer and spiritual 
     reasoning among the brethren--can members of the Church 
     come to know God within themselves and within 
     others." [footnote 53] 

The non-drug use of marijuana is allowed at any point during the day, but 

is most commonly ingested during the three daily prayer 

     [footnote 50]  Id. 

     [footnote 51]  The EZCC's longstanding religious tradition of 
marijuana ingestion may have a history that dates back further than the 
Native American use of peyote.  Some authors postulate that many Indian 
religions did not incorporate the peyote ritual into their religious 
practices until the 1920s and 30s.  See A. Marriott, supra note 9, at 78-
79; see also Amicus Memorandum Before DEA, July 1988, at 34 (citing W. La 
Barre, The Peyote Cult 110-23 (4th ed. 1975)). 

     [footnote 52]  Id. at 14.  The EZCC has compiled works of 
scholarship and ancient references which substantiate and detail the 
religious use of marijuana from time immemorial.  See Amicus Memorandum 
Before DEA, July 1988, App. 6.  For instance, The Book of Grass 11-12 (G.  
Andrews & S. Vinkenoog ed. 1967), is cited for a passage on ancient 
Scythia and Iran by Mircea Eliade: 
     only one document appears to indicate the existence of 
     a Getic shamanism: It is Strabols account of the 
     Mysian KAPNOBATAI, a name that has been translated, by 
     analogy with Aristophanes' AEROBATES, as 'those who 
     walk in clouds', but which should be translated as 
     'those who walk in smoke'.  Presumably the smoke is 
     hemp smoke, a rudimentary means of ecstasy known to 
     both the Thracians and the Scythians...." 
Amicus Memorandum Before DEA, July 1988, App. 6 at 6-7.  The EZCC 
believes that the marriage of Cana involved cannabis not wine; "[c]ana is 
a linguistic derivation of the present day cannabis."  Id.  App. 6, at 

     [footnote 53]  Id. at 14-15. 


sessions. [footnote 54]  Members do not try to maximize the amount of 

smoke taken in or hold smoke in their lungs for long periods of time. 

[footnote 55]  Church members state that their ingestion of marijuana 

during worship does not result in any side-effects [footnote 56] or 

intoxication, nor is that a desirable goal. 

     The Church not only does not encourage but in fact 
     absolutely forbids the recreational use of marijuana 
     for the purpose of achieving intoxification.  The 
     Church believes that such intentional misuse of 
     marijuana, by members or nonmembers, constitutes 
     sacrilegious behavior.  Church members are strictly 
     prohibited from using any intoxication or addictive 
     substance--legal or illegal-- for recreational 

     [footnote 54]  Id. at 15. 

     [footnote 55]  Id. 

     [footnote 56]  Id.  These claims have been substantiated by several  
medical and psychiatric research studies done to determine the effects of 
marijuana on church members.  See Research Report by Brian L. Weiss, 
M.D., P.A. of Florida (1980) (EZCC members, some of whom have smoked 
marijuana in high doses for sixteen hours a day for up to fifty years, 
suffer no apparent psychological or physical harm; tolerance appears to 
have developed with no acute or chronic side effects); Research Report by 
Kenneth C. Fischer, M.D. of Florida (1980) (after doing a "complete 
intensive neurological examination on 31 members" of the EZCC, the "most 
impressive thing ... is the true paucity of neurological abnormalities I 
was able to discern"); American Association for the Advancement of 
Science, Cognition and Long-Term Use of Gania, 213 SCIENCE 465-66 (1981) 
(prolonged and heavy use of ganja have not resulted in any systematic 
decrements in mental abilities suggestive of impairment of brain or 
cerebral function; cognition I.Q. scores were high, and individuals 
appear to be healthy and highly functional); Neuropsychological 
Evaluation by Jeffrey Schaeffer, Ph.D. of California (1981) (despite 
measurable amounts of cannabinoid metabolites in his body and a history 
of very long-term use of cannabis, Carl Eric Olsen demonstrated no 
impairment of his cognitive, cerebral, intellectual, or new learning 
abilities, nor was there any suggestion of damage to the central nervous 
system or long and short-term memory ability; moreover, his ability to 
adapt to change remains at a very high level).  Amicus Memorandum Before 
DEA, July 1988, App. 7, 8, 9. 


     purposes. [footnote 57] 

     There has never been more than between 100 and 200 EZCC members in 

the U.S., and, presently, it is estimated that 60 members live in this 

country. [footnote 58]  Membership has been greatly diminished and 

dispersed due to numerous arrests and prosecutions. [footnote 59]  Some 

have left the Church, others have left the country, and others, like 

Olsen, have been paroled from prison on the condition that they will not 

associate with other members. [footnote 60] 


     A.  Olsen Proceeds Pro Se 

     From 1983 to 1985, Carl Eric Olsen, a member and priest of the EZCC, 

had repeated unilateral communications with the DEA attempting to procure 

for his Church a drug law exemption for the sacramental ingestion of 

marijuana. [footnote 61]  It was not until the 

     [footnote 57]  Id. at 15. 

     [footnote 58]  Id. at 18.  Roughly, 30 members live in Florida, and 
the remaining members live throughout Iowa, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and 
several East Coast cities.  Id. 

     [footnote 59]  Id. at 17. 

     [footnote 60]  Id. at 17-18. 

     [footnote 61]  Olsen's Brief, Aug. 18, 1986, App. 13-20, 28-29, 31-
35.  Olsen proposed the following statutory language: 
     SPECIAL EXEMPT CHURCH.  Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. 
     The listing of marijuana as a controlled substance in 
     Schedule I does not apply to the non-drug use of 
     marijuana in bona fide religious ceremonies of the 
     Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church and members of the 
     Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church so using marijuana are 
     exempt from registration.  Any person who manufactures 
     marijuana for or distributes marijuana to the Ethiopian 
     Zion Coptic Church, however, is required to obtain 


District of Columbia federal district court issued a show cause order to 

the DEA in response to Olsen's writ of mandamus filed in 1986, that the 

DEA finally responded. [footnote 62]  John C. Lawn, the DEA 

Administrator, answered Olsen's requests in the form of a three paragraph 

letter which stated in part: 

          In 1984, an estimated 7,800 to 9,200 metric tons 
     of marijuana were illegally consumed in the United 
     States.  It has been estimated that over 20 million 
     people in the United States use marijuana on a regular 
     basis.  Marijuana abuse is a major public health 
     problem in this country.  Accordingly, the 
     investigation and prosecution of marijuana traffickers, 
     the interdiction of marijuana smuggling and the 
     eradication of the drug at its source continue to be 
     major concerns of drug law enforcement both 
     domestically and internationally. 

          In view of the immensity of the marijuana abuse 
     problem in the United States and the magnitude of the 
     criminal activity surrounding the production and 
     trafficking in this substance, the Administrator of the 
     Drug Enforcement Administration concludes that the 
     interest of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church in the 
     ceremonial use of marijuana is outweighed by the 
     compelling governmental interest in controlling the use 
     and illegal distribution of marijuana in the United 
     States. [footnote 63] 

     The district court dismissed Olsen's mandamus petition as moot; 

appealing the dismissal, Olsen stated, "The DEA gave no reasons at all 

for denying the exemption, the DEA only gave 

     registration annually and to comply with all other 
     requirements of law. 
Id.  App. 13, 16, 18. 

     [footnote 62]  Id. App. 2-4.  Olsen also had filed a mandamus 
petition in the Eleventh Circuit.  Olsen v. DEA, 776 F.2d 267 (llth Cir. 
1985) (affirming district court's denial of olsen's request for a 
mandamus to compel DEA to respond to petitions for marijuana exemption 
because the statute authorizing exemptions does not provide for a 
religious exemption). 

     [footnote 63]  Olsen's Brief, Aug. 18, 1986, App. 11-12. 


reasons for denying marijuana use to the general public. [footnote 64] 

Olsen also appealed the DEA's denial, admitting that the DEA had a 

compelling interest in the overall enforcement of the CSA, but arguing 

that the exemption granted to the NAC had not undermined that interest 

nor would a limited exemption for the EZCC. [footnote 65]  Olsen pointed 

out that the DEA previously denied a peyote exemption to the Church of 

the Awakening ("CotA"), after finding that the CotA was not similar to 

the NAC because "peyote is essential and central to the [NAC] religion in 

that without peyote their religion would not and could not exist." 

[footnote 66]  The DEA made no such findings regarding the EZCC denial. 

[footnote 67] 

     In its response, the government set forth the three-part test from 

United States v. Lee, [footnote 68] for establishing a free exercise 

claim [footnote 69] and cited various free exercise cases. [footnote 70]   

     [footnote 64]  Id. at 5. 

     [footnote 65]  Olsen Brief, Sept. 3, 1986, at 2-4, 11.  The cases 
were consolidated on appeal. 

     [footnote 66]  35 Fed. Reg. 14790 (1970).  The CotA appealed this 
decision to the Ninth Circuit.  Kennedy v. BNDD, 459 F.2d 415 (9th Cir. 
1972) (ruling that statute granting the peyote exemption only to NAC was 
unconstitutional but nonetheless holding that extending the exemption to 
the CotA would not cure the defect, thus, the exemption for the CotA was 
denied), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1115 (1973). 

     [footnote 67]  Olsen's Brief, Sept. 3, 1986, at 8. 

     [footnote 68]  455 U.S. 252 (1982). 

     [footnote 69]  Government Brief, Oct. 6, 1986, at 7.  The Lee test 
inquires: 1) whether the challenged law interferes with the free exercise 
of religion; 2) whether the challenged law is essential to accomplish an 
overriding governmental objective; and 3) whether accommodating the 
religious practice would unduly interfere with fulfillment of the 
governmental interest. 455 



U.S. at 256-59. 

     [footnote 70]  Government Brief at 8-9.  The following cases involve 
EZCC members.  Olsen v. Iowa, 808 F.2d 652 (8th Cir. 1986) (summarily 
rejecting Olsen's free exercise and equal protection claims on habeas 
because of the state's compelling interest in controlling marijuana); 
United States v. Rush, 738 F.2d 497 (lst Cir. 1984) (applying Lee 
standard, court affirmed convictions of 15 members of the EZCC including 
Olsen involving twenty tons of marijuana upon finding that marijuana 
constitutes a health hazard and a threat to social welfare; moreover, NAC 
exemption is different because it is a narrow, readily identifiable 
category with minimal impact on law enforcement), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 
1120 (1985); United States v. Middleton, 690 F.2d 820 (llth Cir. 1982) 
(rejecting free exercise defense of an EZCC member charged with 
importation and possession of marijuana because of government's clearly 
articulated and compelling interest in regulating marijuana), cert. 
denied, 460 U.S. 1051 (1983); Commonwealth v. Nissenbaum, 404 Mass. 575, 
536 NE.2d 592 (1989) (priest and member of EZCC convicted for possession 
of hashish and marijuana could not succeed on free exercise claim because 
state had overriding interest in controlling drug abuse); State v. Olsen, 
315 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 1982) (state demonstrated compelling interest in 
controlling marijuana sufficient to override olsen's free exercise 
argument); Town v. State ex rel. Reno, 377 So.2d 648 (Fla. 1980) (state 
had compelling interest in restricting use of cannabis as religious 
practice of EZCC). 

     The following cases involve members of other religions seeking a 
marijuana exemption.  United States v. Greene, 892 F.2d 453 (6th Cir. 
1989) (Native American failed to convince court that possession and 
distribution of marijuana was constitutionally required), cert. denied, 
110 S. Ct. 2179 (1990); United States v. Spears, 443 F.2d 895 (5th Cir. 
1971) (summarily rejecting Black Muslim's first amendment defense to 
conviction for heroin, marijuana, and peyote smuggling because there is 
no constitutional privilege to use drugs), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 1020 
(1972); Randall v. Wyrick, 441 F. Supp. 312 (W.D. Mo 1977) (affirming 
conviction for marijuana and LSD possession of Aquarian Brotherhood 
Church leader because state had compelling interest in regulation of 
narcotic drug trafficking); United States v. Kuch, 288 F. Supp. 439, 445-
46 (D.D.C. 1968) (affirming conviction for drug offenses of ordained 
minister of Neo-American Church, which embraces principle that marijuana 
and LSD are the true Host, because church did not appear to be a bona 
fide religion and "under any common sense view of undisputed facts" the 
public interest is paramount); Hawaii v. Blake, 695 P.2d 336 (Haw. app. 
1985) (no free exercise defense for member of religion, Hindu Tantrism, 
convicted of possessing marijuana because members can freely practice 
their religion without marijuana); Whyte v. United States, 471 A.2d 1018 
(D.C. 1984) 



(upholding conviction for marijuana possession of Rastafarian of the 
Twelve Tribes of Israel where there were serious and compelling concerns 
of government regarding drug-related problems); State v. Rocheleau, 451 
A.2d 1144 (Vt. 1982) (no first amendment defense for Tantric Buddhist 
convicted for possession of marijuana); New Mexico v. Brashear, 92 N.M. 
622, 595 P.2d 63 (1979) (defendant's belief in the religious use of 
marijuana was derived from defendant's personal views of the Bible, and 
he failed to show that his belief was religious); Lewellyn v. State, 592 
P.2d 538 (Okla. 1979) (priest in Holy American Church could not raise 
religious defense to sale of marijuana to undercover officer who was not 
member of professed religion); People v. Mullins, 50 Cal. 3d 61, 123 Cal.  
Rptr. 201 (1975) (pastor of Universal Life Church of Christ Light failed 
to prove that marijuana was indispensable to his religion and that 
prohibition of marijuana use resulted in virtual inhibition of practice 
of his religion); People v. Crawford, 328 N.Y.S. 747, 748, 755 (1972) 
(member and minister of Church of Missionaries of the New Truth who used 
marijuana and LSD to achieve religious experience denied exemption 
because there was no evidence that defendant used drugs as part of 
religious ceremony, used drugs with other members of his Church, drugs 
were an intrinsic part of Church's dogma, or that his exercise of 
religion would inhibited without the use of drugs); People v. Werber, 
App. 3d 598, 97 Cal. Rptr. 150 (1971) (defendant's use marijuana did not 
constitute religious practice within constitutional concept of religion 
where it was not an object of worship essential to exclusively religious 
ritual); People v. Collins, 273 Cal.  App. 2d 486, 78 Cal. Rptr. 151 
(1969) (defendant did not worship marijuana but used it as an "auxiliary 
to a desired capacity for communication"); People v. Mitchell, 244 Cal.  
App. 2d 176, 52 Cal. Rptr. 884 (1966) (defendant did not offer any 
evidence that use of marijuana was a religious practice, instead he was 
expressing his own personal philosophy and way of life). 

     The following cases involve churches seeking a peyote exemption.  
Peyote Way Church of God v. Smith, 742 F.2d 193 (5th Cir. 1984) 
(reversing summary judgment which had been entered for government and 
remanding for weighing of interests involved because Texas and federal 
exemptions for NAC tended to negate compelling state interest in denying 
such exemption to Peyote Way Church); United States v. Warner, 595 F. 
Supp. 595 (D.N.D. 1984) (non-Indians who alleged that their use of peyote 
was part of their ceremonies in NAC were not entitled to exemption 
accorded to Indians); Native American Church of New York v. United 
States, 468 F. Supp. 1247 (S.D.N.Y. 1979) (interest of minister of Native 
American Church of New York seeking declaratory judgment in using drugs 
other than peyote must be subordinated to the important governmental 
purposes served by the CSA; as to peyote, group, while admittedly having 
no ties to NAC, must show it was a bona 


Admittedly, the federal and state peyote exemptions tend to negate the 

existence of a compelling government interest in prohibiting its non-drug 

use in bona fide religious worship. [footnote 71]  Thus, the government 

tried to distinguish the NAC, stating that Congressional testimony 

presented by the director of the BNDD during the CSA hearings indicated 

that the NAC was considered 

     sui generis.  The history and tradition of the church 
     is such that there is no question but that they regard 
     peyote as a deity. [footnote 72] 

By contrast, the EZCC "does not have such a Congressional recognition of 

its status." [footnote 73] 

     Olsen replied with a discussion of the key case regarding the 

sacramental use of marijuana, Leary v. United States. [footnote 74] 

Timothy Leary and his daughter were found in possession of marijuana upon 

their re-entry into this country by car from Mexico. [footnote 75] 

Raising a free exercise defense, Leary argued that he was part of the 

Hindu sect of Brahmakrishna and that "the experience [I find) through the 

use of marihuana is the essence 

fide religion), aff'd mem., 633 F.2d 205 (2d Cir. 1980); Birnbaum v. 
United States, 80 Civ. 1534 (RLC) (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 11, 1983) (would extend 
exemption to peyotist religions in general if group could establish that 
it was a bona fide religion) (unpublished). 

     [footnote 71]  Government Brief at 9. 

     [footnote 72]  Id. at 9.  For the full quote, see note 38. 

     [footnote 73]  Id.; see also Government Memorandum Before DEA, July 
22, 1988, at 13-16. 

     [footnote 74]  383 F.2d 851 (5th Cir. 1967), rev'd on other grounds, 
395 U.S. 6 (1969) cited in Olsen's Reply Brief, Oct. 10, 1986, at 3, 6-7. 

     [footnote 75]  383 F.2d at 855-56. 


of [my] religion." [footnote 76]  A Hindu monk testifying for Leary 

stated that he was partially able to achieve and practice his religious 

beliefs in the religious sect without the use of marijuana. [footnote 77] 

Leary admitted that if he could not use marijuana, it would not affect 

his religious beliefs. [footnote 78]  The court held that the laws 

regulating marijuana serve a compelling governmental interest in avoiding 

a "substantial threat to public safety, peace or order." [footnote 79] 

     Examining the NAC exemption, the court reviewed two California 

cases. [footnote 80]  In People v. Woody, the state court found a free 

exercise right to use peyote for NAC members who had been arrested during 

a ceremony, [footnote 81] and in In re Grady, the state court held that a 

peyote preacher could offer a first amendment defense to prosecution for 

possession of peyote. [footnote 81]  The Leary court found that unlike 

Leary's use of marijuana, peyote "played 'a central role in the ceremony 

and practice of the Native American Church, [and that the] ceremony 

marked by sacramental use of peyote, 

     [footnote 76]  Id. at 857, 860. 

     [footnote 77]  Id. at 857-58. 

     [footnote 78]  Id. at 857.  The court found that Leary drew no 
distinction between his religious beliefs and his scientific 
experimentation.  Id. 

     [footnote 79]  Id. at 860. 

     [footnote 80]  Id. at 861. 

     [footnote 81]  61 Cal. 2d 716, 40 Cal. Rptr. 69, 394 P.2d 813 

     [footnote 82]  61 Cal. 2d 887, 39 Cal. Rptr. 912, 394 P.2d 728