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Holy Smoke

By Brian Segna

Feb. 5, 2007 9:30 p.m.

He’s not unlike an extremely specialized botanist. But with an expertise so acute that it spans just one plant. And his work is not dissimilar from that of a devout missionary. But with a mission far larger than that of any neighborhood priest.

It is this hybrid of pseudo-botany and alternative ministry that landed cannabis guru, ordained minister and UCLA alumnus (class of ’93) Craig X Rubin his first stint in Hollywood and, potentially, seven years in prison ““ all for what he believes is his mission from God.

It was his first book, “9021Grow,” and his flourishing fame in the pot world (and not his history degree from UCLA) that helped him secure the job of “Marijuana Consultant” for the award-winning Showtime television program, “Weeds,” starring Mary-Louise Parker.

“They would bring me in once or twice a year and I would give them like a five-hour presentation about what was going on in the pot world,” Rubin said. “The influence of the medical marijuana clubs, the prices, the strains, what was really hip and important in the pot world.”

Over the course of the first two seasons, Rubin advised the writers and producers about anything and everything that dealt with marijuana.

He recommended that the main character, Nancy (Parker), have a cover business for her marijuana dealing, he taught the writers and producers about the intricacies of growing weed, and he even successfully suggested that he be written into the script.

Appearing once in each of the two seasons of “Weeds,” Rubin played the role of a cannabis club owner selling weed in a variety of forms.

But to the real-life Rubin, that plant is more than just a weed ““ it is the Tree of Life. And he’s not alone in his beliefs.

On top of his budding Hollywood career, Rubin is the owner and reverend of a religious institution in Hollywood named Temple 420. His temple combines Judeo-Christian ideologies and focuses on the use of cannabis for religious purposes.

“Smoking marijuana is directly connected to our religion. But we don’t smoke cannabis during the religious services,” said Rubin. “We burn it as an incense.

“The smoke carries our prayers to heaven, to the Creator and around the world to others.”

The temple, which costs $100 to join, as well as $100 for annual dues, currently has a membership of 412 (a number which Rubin jokes is just eight shy of something special).

“This isn’t some popcorn religion that just popped up, like Scientology,” said Rubin. “We believe (marijuana) is a plant for the healing of all nations, as it states in Revelation 22. You can use it to make food, fuel, fiber, medicine, as well as many other products.”

Rubin offers services every Saturday and Sunday at 4:20 p.m., where he uses readings from the Old and New Testaments to spread the word of God, and helps connect the scripture to everyday lessons. Some have found the experience eye-opening.

“(The temple) has really opened my eyes in a lot of ways,” said Frank Lopez, a member of Temple 420. “Craig X helped me find the talents that I have. I enjoy working with kids and I have started working at the YMCA in child care.”

Following the verdict from a 2006 New Mexico court case, Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, which permitted the use of a Schedule 1 hallucinogen during religious ceremony, Rubin says he believed he was legally using and selling marijuana to members such as Lopez, as it was for religious purposes.

But last November, after actor Kevin Nealon, who plays Doug on “Weeds,” mentioned Rubin’s story while on KTLA Channel 5 promoting the last episode of the show, undercover police officer Tracy Fields joined the church later that day and purchased marijuana from Rubin. It was an incident that led to a police raid of the temple and a pending court trial that could put Rubin in prison for seven years.

“For a couple months, I didn’t sell any sacrament because I was worried about going to jail for seven years. But now after seeing the discovery of the prosecution, I realized they have no case,” said Rubin. “I’m about to change the law right now. I think there is a good chance now that (marijuana) is allowed for medical purposes, that they will want it for religious purposes, and then industrial purposes.”

Rubin says he is aware of 12 cannabis-using religious organizations throughout the nation. But it is his belief that the use of marijuana for religious purposes will quickly become more popular.

“I think this will be revolutionary, because in California it will now be proven that a religious organization will be protected,” said Josh Moscov, a spokesman for Temple 420. “The People v. Temple 420 will be a landmark decision.”

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Brian Segna
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