In life, one may face a moment of defiance, suffer a loss or experience grief, and perhaps be forced to circumvent changes to regain what one feels to have lost in the first place. Sometimes when suffering, one seeks something of a spiritual pillow to soften the blows of reality. And, most often, one seeks inner peace to stitch back the hope lost.

Religion has found its way through mankind since we have been able to walk and communicate. Today, many people are torn when it comes to this topic, and some do not believe in anything higher than what we see.

But the invisible maker who is commonly believed to rule all — our Creator, Mother Earth, God, Allah, or what have you — has been the protein of faith, the flesh of hope, and the blood of survival for religious circles and cultures. Faith has also brought us to our knees by its masses of biblical rules, and has denied us what we believe to be real. But what is real anyway?

Religion has also fathered governed rules, laws, wars, fears, and terror. It is at the very foundation of wars. We live in terror today. We live in fear today.

It would be fair to say that religious beliefs are humanity’s first response to harbour and manifest hope, guidance, and redemption. It is practiced by many to promote and inspire positive change for the betterment of their future’s structure, and most importantly for their overall internal stability. Humans rely on religion for many different and sometimes for very profound reasons.

A type of religious belief that has been rarely exercised and is deeply misunderstood and ignorantly dismissed by other religious peers and society is cannabis as a sacred plant. Cannabis is also known as a sacred tree of life and it is respected as such by people internationally. Ultimately, it is the global laws that forbade civilians to feel safe to practice any form of this type of religion. One could argue the reason it is so illegal in many countries is because it’s so sacred. But in the United States, in California specifically, this religious practice is alive and well.

This is a story about how one man pushed those boundaries to the limits by believing in cannabis as a divine plant and as a healing entity under God’s roof, and how his upbringing helped pave that journey. Here is a conversation I had with Craig Rubin on January 11, 2016 to get his story in his own words.

Interviewing Craig X Rubin

“Hi Jade! Are we recording?” Craig asked on our Skype conversation — the agreement was a recorded audio interview of the virtual interview for this written one. “Do I have your permission to record you?” I asked, to confirm. “Oh yeah, go right ahead, pretty lady. I actually already thought you were.” Then he smiled at me and took a rip off his bong using Bee Line hemp wick. I smiled and began the interview.

Photo used with permission.

JR ~  How would you describe your childhood from your earliest memories?

CXR ~ Fun loving. I came from a nice big family with one brother and lots of cousins … and an amazing granny who could cook. My family and I really liked to have good times and laugh.

JR ~ What kind of values did your parents teach you growing up, and do you carry any of those with you today? If yes, please explain how.

CXR ~ My dad was always very pro-America, pro-government, pro-Constitution, and pro-Ten Commandments. I grew up with a strong sense that America was a great place to be from and that I should feel lucky for having been born there. I still believe in the Ten Commandments and love the US Constitution and the founders who fought the British Red Coats.

JR ~ Most kids, teens especially, hate rules growing up. What rules did you have in the house that you didn’t like, if any?

CXR ~ The “no pot” rule at home, because I genuinely never felt it was bad. From the time I was twelve, I had gotten in trouble with pot. As a young person I realized it was the government that was the problem with pot. It was later in life that I discovered in my own experiences that the real crime with cannabis were the laws and the government enforcing these laws.

JR ~ Were you brought up in a religious home? What practices took place, and was cannabis ever present?

CRX ~ I went to eight years of Hebrew school.  My parents were not religious and neither was I really, but my great grandfather had been a rabbi and that provided a cultural sense that we came from a Jewish culture. We celebrated the Jewish holidays, and went to the Jewish deli every Saturday. Cannabis was never strongly present until high school and never present with my dad. But it was with with my older cousins, aunts, and grandmother.

JR ~ Walk me through how and when cannabis was first introduced into your life.

CXR ~ I had met Ringo Starr as a kid, saw an R-rated movie, and smoked pot for the first time in one night … it was a crazy night and I was only twelve years old. My best friend’s father was Ringo’s manager/lawyer and somehow at his house my world was forever changed. Then, around the age of fifteen, I met and began to hang out with Jack Herer, and he became a huge inspiration to me growing up.

JR ~ How does cannabis affect your life today?

CXR ~ I don’t smoke as much as I used to but I still enjoy it, and when I do [smoke] I always light it with Bee Line hemp wick. I promote all of their products because I think they are top notch and safer than inhaling butane.

JR ~ Do you have a family? Any children? If yes, what values do you share with them today?

CXR ~ I have a lot of children and they all know the Ten Commandments by heart, respect the US Constitution, but are not as naive as I was to believe that our government is always doing the right thing.

JR ~ What motivated you to start Temple 420 and how did it develop?

CXR ~ Well, I had always enjoyed the stories in the Bible and wanted to be a Bible teacher. I felt that God was speaking to me to help people with cannabis.

Photo used with permission.

JR ~  What did Temple 420 services entail?

CXR ~ At our church, we welcomed anyone who felt they wanted to come and see what we were about. We never pushed our church upon people, but rather invited them in and made it a welcoming atmosphere where people could enjoy a fun, uplifting service and enjoy our cannabis ceremonies.

We even had different activities during certain days of the week. Like on Friday, we had the Sabbath lighting ceremony, on Saturday we taught the Old Testament, and on Sunday we taught the New Testament. And there were no cannabis sales on the weekend from Friday sundown to Sunday sundown — we just observed the Sabbath and did no business. On Monday and Tuesdays we would have Poker Night and have some charity events.

We also did BINGO nights, married people there, and sold pot in the store. We also had comedy nights from time to time, where comedians like Doug Benson came to perform.

JR ~ Have you ever been arrested?

CXR ~ Yes. The first time I was arrested I was pulled over at a speed trap doing 55 in a 35 [zone], and then they said I had a suspended license. So I went to the DMV, and had filed, but it showed that I had paid it late. The judge dropped it, but that was my first arrest.

JR ~ You were arrested later in life?

CRX ~ I had already been holding Free Speech rallies at UCLA, and at one rally in April of 1990 there were about 500 people in the gymnasium at that time, and so security and police were present. Someone had lit a joint as I was speaking, and so they began to arrest me for inciting a riot. I didn’t even have a joint in my hand. And eventually, they held me until the school day was over.

And then around six o’clock at night they arrested me for marijuana possession. As I left the rally in handcuffs, I yelled out, “This is what happens when you demonstrate the freedom of speech in America!”  And the thing is, I had no marijuana on me. There was one joint shared between other people and my friend Bernie. Yet they directly arrested me because I had the microphone.

So, after my arrest I had been bouncing back and forth in court because it kept getting postponed by the judge, and I was missing classes because of it. So the third time I saw the judge, I complained that I had in fact missed classes, and that truthfully I did not have marijuana on me at the rally. I explained that I would plead guilty to the inciting a riot charge and be done with it. I really just wanted the false marijuana charges dropped.

So the judge agreed, and I was only charged for inciting a riot. The other charges were dropped. The judge had also said it would be erased from my record in three years, but that charge still shows up today. And because of that riot charge it makes it difficult for me to purchase guns as now, as my name gets flagged all the time. It would be nice to be able to exercise my other constitutional amendments, but this charge certainly stuck.

JR ~ So, after doing some research on you, I discovered that your Temple 420 was raided six months after it was opened. On Vimeo, I saw a video and it seemed pretty intense in regards to how the raid was orchestrated, and how it went down. In your own words, could you share with me exactly how the raid went down, to the best of your knowledge?

CRX ~ Okay, so this is how it went down: Bret Bogue, who was a friend of mine, someone I had been friends with for years — he had come over and spent time with my kids, all that stuff — I believe he was a government agent working for the feds at the time of the raid. He was trying to get me to open up a marijuana business. He was offering all sorts of money, and things like this. And I wasn’t interested. But my wife and I raised our own money and opened up Temple 420.

So we asked Bret if he could get us some weed because he was from the people I knew, and he was importing thousands and thousands of pounds of marijuana from Canada and Holland, and he was selling 2000 pounds a month. He was also connected to High Times, and ran ads in High Times. He was, like, High Times. He knew everyone I did. I speculate High Times is totally ran by the CIA and that’s why they were all importing thousands of pounds of marijuana from Europe and Canada. But that’s just my belief. High Times is run by the CIA, but that is just my speculation. I don’t want to go to say that this is true because I have no evidence, but I will say that it appears to me and is in my professional opinion as a drug warrior and freedom fighter.

It appears to me through my years of experience with police and law enforcement that somehow High Times and the CIA are linked to law enforcement agencies. Now I am not saying that the people that work there are agents, or even aware of what’s going on even, and I feel badly for some of them, but this is how I believe it works. And this is how I think it works: I think the CIA funds advertisements to create and endorse criminal activity. But this is just a theory I have come up with. High Times may not even know that this is happening.

So anyway, I believe that Bret Bogue set me up and in the Vimeo video you can see how I think it went down.

JR ~ What happened after the raid and release, and when was it clear to you that Bret Bogue was directly involved?

CRX ~ We had recovered the videos months later (after the raid) and had someone extract the video footage from the computer hard drive, and that’s how I was able to put the pieces of the footage together. But what I saw [that] was totally mind-blowing came next. I saw that my friend for years, Bret, showed up with the cops who had arrested us.

And jokingly on comedy night — Bret shows up one night before we recovered any footage — Bret shows up and I am joking about this whole thing and jokingly said that Bret was CIA, totally joking, and he suddenly breaks out in a massive sweat like you wouldn’t believe, and says he feels sick and has to leave.

In addition, Bret funded two movies I was in. So you can imagine my surprise in the end.

JR ~ What have you been doing these days now that all the dust has settled?

CRX ~ I own a comic book called The Stoned Age and I run a glass company called Jeronimo Glass as well. I also run a THC call center which helps people network and use the internet for their businesses. Other than that, I do stand up comedy and radio interviews.

It was Craig’s pursuit to find out why he was really raided, but perhaps the answers were already there in front of him. Nevertheless, the truth does come out eventually. I believe Craig’s truth clearly speaks for itself.

[Editor’s note: This interview has been copyedited for readability; original communication style, phrasing, intent, and personal opinion remain.]