An Ohio appellate court recently rejected a defendant's claim that his sentence for drug possession was based on his religious use of psilocybin mushrooms. The court found that the defendant failed to establish that he uses psilocybin mushrooms in connection with a sincerely held religious belief.
The defendant described the 'Church of Freewater' as consisting of three people providing life coaching to drug and alcohol addicted individuals, without describing any particular religious beliefs or tenets of the organization. The court noted that the defendant did not describe how the mushrooms are utilized in furtherance of the religion as part of a rite or ceremony.
Instead, the defendant represented that mushrooms were used to treat chronic pain and PTSD throughout the proceedings. The court concluded that the alleged belief that was infringed upon would be most accurately characterized as a personal preference, rather than a deeply held religious conviction.
Based on the lack of evidence of a genuine religious connection and the defendant's emphasis on personal use for pain relief and trauma treatment, the court rejected the religious claim, upholding the defendant's sentence for drug possession.
The defendant's statements about mushrooms being a 'holy sacrament' and a 'divine teacher' were not sufficient to establish a sincere religious belief. Furthermore, the defendant's description of the Church of Freewater as primarily focused on helping individuals 'be themselves, through mind, body, and spirit' did not indicate a specific religious purpose.
The court found that the defendant failed to provide evidence of a genuine religious connection to the use of psilocybin mushrooms. Instead, the defendant's emphasis on personal use for pain relief and trauma treatment undermined his claim of religious use.
The court concluded that the defendant's alleged belief was more accurately characterized as a personal preference rather than a deeply held religious conviction. As a result, the religious claim was rejected and the defendant's sentence for drug possession was upheld.