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Minnesota Supreme Court will not hear Rastafarian drug paraphernalia case: Rastas win

Father and son Jamison and Jordan Arend at home.
Father and son Jamison and Jordan Arend at home.
Brian Garrity

At the end of September, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an unprecedented decision: Three judges ruled that Jordan Arend, a 16-year-old Rastafarian who'd been arrested with a Rasta-colored pipe, was not guilty of possessing drug paraphernalia. The grounds? His Rasta religion.

See Also: Holy Smoke: Rastafarians toke for a higher power

That decision, and the father and son Rastafarians at its core, were the subject of our October cover story, Holy Smoke. The story left off in suspense: The Arends had won at the Court of Appeals, but the Ramsey County Attorney's Office planned to keep fighting, and appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Now, the state's highest court has weighed in: The Supremes have denied review of the case. In other words, the Court of Appeals decision is the final word. The Rastas win.

"A lot of people were surprised," says Michael Kemp, the Arends' lawyer. "I think because of two reasons. One, the unprecedented nature of the Court of Appeals decision, and two, it's the sort of case that's more interesting to take."

The Supreme Court is not required to explain its decision to accept or deny a case, and it didn't here.

The Court of Appeals opinion is unpublished, which means that it doesn't set a new legal precedent, but can still be cited in court under certain circumstances. Whether or not it comes up in future cases, one thing is sure now: Jordan Arend is off the hook for a petty misdemeanor.

Here's the full Court of Appeals opinion, which is an interesting read:

JJMA Opinion


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