Wisconsin’s first Rastafarian church was shut down Wednesday pending further investigation for the distribution and sale of marijuana.
Since opening its doors in March, Lion of Judah House of Rastafari has been raided twice.
Wednesday’s raid was led by the Dane County Narcotics Task Force and resulted in the detention of church leaders Jesse Schworck and Dylan Paul Bangert.
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Schworck is also being charged with battery and disorderly conduct after he allegedly hit a man with a baseball bat Friday following a dispute over payment for the church’s sacrament according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The raid Wednesday is part of an on-going battle between the Rastafarian church and local law enforcement agencies, as the church claims they are allowed to use marijuana as its sacrament. The church also claims the raids and charges are a violation of their First Amendment right to practice their religion.
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MPD central district captain Jason Freedman said that just because the group claims they use marijuana for religious purposes does not mean they have legal permission to use the currently illegal drug.
“There are several standards they have to meet, and we do not believe they’ve met those standards,” Freedman said. “We are going to work towards making sure that the laws are followed as they should be, but their claiming that they are legal does not equate to them being legal.”