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Posted: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 10:51 AM HST

Christies sentenced in pot distribution ring

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) A Big Island man who used his ministry to promote marijuana use was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison.

Roger Christie, founder of The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, also known as the THC Ministry, has served nearly four years in federal detention. Defense attorney Thomas Otake says that based on how credit for time served is calculated, he could be released in a month or two.

Soon after Christie was sentenced, his wife, Sherryanne Christie, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for her role in the case.

A federal grand jury indicted the Christies and 12 others on marijuana trafficking counts after a 2010 raid of the ministry. Christie has been in federal detention since, while his wife has been free on bail.

The Christies have tried to fight the charges on religious grounds.

The couple pleaded guilty after a judge ruled against allowing a defense based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

They entered into conditional plea agreements last year, reserving the right to appeal aspects of the case on religious grounds.

Roger Christie says that he will appeal.

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