Big Island marijuana advocate Roger Christie pleaded guilty this morning in his marijuana trafficking case related to a now-defunct Hawaii Cannabis Ministry. He pleaded guilty to one count of marijuana trafficking and two counts of failure to pay income taxes in 2008 and 2009. His conditional plea agreement will still allow him to appeal pretrial rulings to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, including the denial of his bid to dismiss the marijuana charges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Christie's lawyer Thomas Otake said his client will likely be sentenced to a five-year prison term. But Christie will have to serve only about six more months because he will be credited for the time he spent behind bars awaiting trial and because of the way federal authorities calculate prison sentences.
He'll be sentenced January 22.