The “First Church of Cannabis” is putting Indiana’s infamous new religious freedom law to the test, claiming that, in their faith, marijuana is a sacrament.
Marijuana is not currently legal in Indiana, but Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which caused a nationwide stir earlier this year, orders that state laws may not “substantially burden” a person's ability to exercise their religion.
The First Church of Cannabis has now filed a lawsuit against the state, in which they state that the healing sacrament of marijuana "brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group.”
The church—whose members are known as “Cannaterians,” according to the Indianapolis Star—was founded on the same day Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the religious objections law.
Founder Bill Levin told the Associated Press his church is built "on the cornerstone of love, compassion and good health.”
"We are taking legal action today to ensure love has no barriers in our land," Levin said at a press conference, which he attended while smoking a cigar. "Today we invite the state of Indiana and all its leaders to joyfully meet us in a court of law for clarifications on our core religious values. We look forward to engaging them on the high plane of dignity and discipline, with love and compassion in our hearts, to find a swift and sensible answer for our questions of religious equality.”
The church has held at least one formal service, where the 100 attendees did not consume marijuana, following threats of arrest from law enforcement. Instead they played reggae, danced, and delivered testimonials about the spiritual power of marijuana.
#CannabisChurch is in service. Walked back outside, IMPD patrol cars still rolling past every few minutes. pic.twitter.com/bLRpwT8MAn— MichaelAnthonyAdams (@MichaelAdams317) July 8, 2015
“It's not just a place to smoke cannabis,” one member told ABC7. “This is a place to show love. There’s a few members that don’t even smoke.”