The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana has attracted dozens of patrons adorned in tie-dyed clothing and shirts with marijuana leaf emblems. The recently formed Indianapolis church was reportedly formed as a test case for the new Religious Freedom and Restoration Act in the state. The church was founded in March by members seeking to legalize marijuana in the state of Indianapolis as a religious liberty, according to TIME.
The first service was held at the First Church of Cannabis on Wednesday. The attendees reportedly opted to celebrate the opening of the Indianapolis church without smoking pot during the service because government authorities threatened to arrest anyone toking on marijuana during the rites.
Some neighbors of the cannabis church object to the formation of the group because it is not a good fit for the area and noted the illegality of smoking or ingesting cannabis, as well.
First Church of Cannabis founder Bill Levin said he chose to nix the marijuana portion of the service held earlier this week because he ultimately wanted to test the bounds of religious objections laws in civil, not criminal, court.
“If we weren’t intimidated, this would be the sacrament box, folks – this is the box we keep our sacrament in,” Levin said, while toting a small wooden box. “Unfortunately, there’s no sacrament in it today, so just pretend, folks,” ABC News reported. The majority of cannabis church members followed suit and pretended to pass around joints and smoke them.
Bill Levin maintains that the cannabis church now has more than 1,000 members and is built upon the “cornerstone of love, compassion and good health.” Levin said the church is not just some place for folks to go and to get stoned.
The Indiana church claims that opposition to their use of cannabis during worship amounts to religious persecution. The claims were uttered after the recently approved Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. The state laws permits both companies and individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense during legal proceedings. The religious freedom act garnered heated debate after opponents to the law claimed it could be used to discriminate against gay marriage and the LGBT community.
What do you think about the First Church of Cannabis plans to test Indiana religious freedom laws? Should marijuana legalization occur nationwide?
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