(Craig F. Walker, Denver Post file)

A drug temple in Nebraska? ‘Priestess’ convicted on pot charges

YORK, Neb. — A Nebraska woman who testified that her home was a temple for religious use of marijuana has been convicted of four drug charges.

Online court records say 53-year-old Brenda Hines, of York, was found guilty Wednesday of three similar charges of possession for sale and one of maintaining a place for drug trafficking. Hines was acquitted on one charge: possessing drug money. She’s scheduled to be sentenced on July 13.

Witnesses testified that Hines and her ex-husband, Richard McLellan, shared a house in York and that Hines had “disciples” who went there to buy and use drugs.

Hines said her Temple of Zion reflected her religious beliefs and that God provided the marijuana she sold or gave to temple members, according to the York News-Times.

McLellan said on the stand that his former wife “is the priestess of the temple.”

“It’s just a religion of hers,” McLellan said. “She helps people out with their bills.”

He also said he and Hines sold marijuana there.

Hines, the only defense witness, acknowledged that she wouldn’t say who actually supplied the pot because she knew her drug activities were illegal.

Prosecutor Candace Dick asked Hines whether she sold marijuana to support her own habit, and Hines replied: “No, I partake in the sacrament, but I buy it.”

“Do you rely on the money from your residents to support your temple?” Dick asked.

“Yes, just like any church does,” Hines said. She later read several Bible verses that she said justified her actions.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Nancy Waldron said the Temple of Zion was a place of religious worship. “Just as the Native Americans used peyote, the Zionists believe in using marijuana in their worship,” Waldron said.

But Dick said the law limits what people can and cannot do.

“We cannot interpret the Bible in our own way to justify breaking the law,” Dick said.

Information from: York News-Times