A minister persecuted for his sacrament.Rev. Tom Brown

Founder and pastor of 'Our Church', which used cannabis as its sacrament

served 5 years

charged with marijuana cultivation


Founded in 1988 and incorporated in March, 1994, Our Church believes in the use of God-given herbs and plants for spiritual insight. It is recognized by the state of Arkansas as a tax-exempt religion, and uses the cannabis flower as its sacrament.

Rev. Tom Brown, a licensed minister of Our Church, decided to exercise his religious rights and deeded one acre of his 39-acre farm to the church so that its members could grow the sacramental herb.

Later that month, Brown, along with ten other church members met with the local county sheriff and told him that they planned on cultivating cannabis on church grounds, but promised not to sell any. They cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (which at the time allowed the Native American Church to engage in peyote rituals but was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court) and claimed their basic human right to grow and share their sacrament.

In August, 1994, Rev. Brown was arrested and charged with the manufacture of 435 marijuana plants and three peyote plants. During his trial, he was not allowed to present any evidence regarding his religious defense or even to mention Our Church. He was sentenced to ten years in prison (later reduced to five years due to a change in the federal plant weight calculations) and his entire 39-acre blueberry farm was seized, even though the "crime" was not committed there, but on a separately deeded parcel.