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State of Idaho v. Shawn M. Fluewelling

March 17, 2011

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SHAWN M. FLUEWELLING,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Ada County. The Hon. Ronald J. Wilper, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eismann, Chief Justice.

2011 Opinion No. 29

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

This is an appeal contending that prosecution for possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver it violated the right to practice a religion in which marijuana is used as a sacrament. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Shawn Fluewelling (Defendant) was indicted for possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, a felony. On January 12, 2008, a Meridian police officer responded to a call regarding the odor of marijuana near Defendant's residence. When he arrived, the officer could smell the odor of marijuana coming from the residence. He knocked on the door and spoke with Defendant, who explained that as an active practitioner of THC Ministries, he smoked marijuana and cooked with it. Defendant also stated that he had smoked marijuana the prior day, that he had recently cooked marijuana in the residence, and that during the past few hours he had smoked marijuana with two other people. Two days later, officers executed a search warrant at Defendant's home, in which they found nine grams of marijuana. During the search, Defendant waived his Miranda rights and talked with the officers. He told them that he was an ordained minister in THC Ministries and that he provided marijuana to be smoked by his friends as a sacrament, but he did not receive any compensation for doing so. He also produced a "sanctuary card" and stated that his residence was a sanctuary making it free from any laws. He explained that marijuana was a sacrament in his religion, that he kept it in a "sacrament box" (a cigar humidor), and that he anoints others with marijuana by packing it in a pipe for them to smoke in his residence.

A grand jury indicted Defendant for possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, a felony. He filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the prosecution violated his right to the free exercise of religion protected by the State and Federal Constitutions. He also contended that the statute under which he was charged was unconstitutionally vague because the definition of "deliver" was so broad that it gave the prosecuting attorney discretion to charge either a felony or a misdemeanor. The district court denied both motions, and Defendant pled guilty, reserving his right to appeal. After he was sentenced and the judgment of conviction was entered, Defendant timely appealed.

II. ISSUES ON APPEAL

A. Is Idaho Code § 37-2732(a) unconstitutionally vague?

B. Did the prosecution of Defendant for possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver violate his constitutional right to the free exercise of his religion?

III. ANALYSIS

A. Is Idaho Code § 37-2732(a) Unconstitutionally Vague?

Defendant was charged with the possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver in violation of Idaho Code § 37-2732(a)(1)(B). The amount of marijuana found during the search of Defendant's residence was about one-third of an ounce. Simply possessing that amount of marijuana (less than three ounces) is a misdemeanor, Idaho Code § 37-2732(c)(3), but it ...


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