First Church of Cannabis Established
At least one good thing has come out of Indiana’s wretched Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While Governor Mike Pence signed the new legislation that makes it legal for business-owning homophobes in the Hoosier State to refuse service to homosexuals the First Church of Cannabis took root. The Church’s founder filed the paperwork to establish the place of worship while legislators were busy dealing with the fallout from the Governor Pence’s Pyyric victory.
“This whole anti-gay bill they were producing here was just a horrid little thing that everybody was watching real closely, and it became evident that this state thinks more about religion than it does about government or equal rights or anything else,” said Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis, during a recent interview with HIGH TIMES. “I filed the papers with the Secretary of State on Thursday, as soon as Mikey signed off on that damn bill, and it came back the next morning that it was accepted.” More from HT:
This means the state of Indiana, which has blatantly refused to even hear legislation to legalize marijuana, has officially recognized the First Church of Cannabis as a legitimate ministry and acknowledges the religion, which Levin calls “Cannabiterian,” as an accepted faith. The church now has just as much freedom to operate as any other denomination in the state.
Levin, who also organizes the Indy Canna March at the Statehouse each year on 4/20, announced the formation of the church on his Facebook page last Friday, which he says has generated such an outpouring of support from people all over the country that the reality of building a brick and mortar facility is well within reach.
“The damn thing has snowballed so big that we’re already raising money for our church,” he said. “We’ll probably break $2,000 before the end of the day.”
It will be the world’s first “Hemple,” Levin continued. “We’re going to build a hempcrete temple from the ground up. That’s my ultimate goal—to get a campus where we can achieve a lot of success, love and take care of people.”
The master plan for the First Church of Cannabis, Levin explained, came immediately after hearing Indiana attorney Abdul-Hakim Shabazz say on his radio show last week that RFRA may provide a loophole for pot smokers to partake in the herb in the name of religion.
“Marijuana consumption is part of numerous faith traditions,” Hakim Shabazz said. “If you’re a member of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, you can light up. And you might want to attend a future service of the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, The Free Life Ministry Church of Canthe and my personal favorite, the federally tax-exempt InFormer Ministry Collective of Palms Springs, California. All these organizations use pot as part of their religious practices.”
The attorney, who is also the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.org, states that under RFRA, Indiana must “articulate a compelling interest” in order to prevent a person from smoking marijuana.
“I argue they can’t,” he said, adding that a congregation, like the First Church of Cannabis, could pose the argument that marijuana is not as dangerous as using alcohol during their religious services.
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