First Church of Cannabis Approved by State of Indiana

In this Aug. 29, 2013, photo, a marijuana plant grows in a hydroponics garden inside an apartment in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
In this Aug. 29, 2013, photo, a marijuana plant grows in a hydroponics garden inside an apartment in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

The First Church of Cannabis Inc. has been approved by Indiana’s secretary of state after the state’s religious freedom legislation was signed into law last week.

The church’s founder Bill Levin said he filed paperwork in direct response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence last Thursday. Secretary of State Connie Lawson approved the church as a religious corporation with the stated intent “to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all.”

Cannibis is listed as the church’s sacrament in its doctrine, Levin said, and he will set up a church hierarchy. The church will plan to grow hemp, he said, though it will not buy or sell marijuana.

“If someone is smoking in our church, God bless them,” Levin said. “This is a church to show a proper way of life, a loving way to live life. We are called ‘cannataerians.’”

Marijuana is currently illegal in Indiana for both medical and recreational use, so the church could test the application of the new law. RFRA prevents Indiana’s government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion if it can demonstrate that it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.

Levin, who spoke to The Post over the phone, said the church has received $2,000 in donations and received more than 7,000 Facebook fans in the five days that it has existed. He hopes to build the first church or temple built of hempcrete, a building material similar to concrete that includes hemp.

“We are progressing to get a building property to be our holy ground,” he said. “We’re going to set up counseling for heroin since we have a huge epidemic in this country. We’ll probably have Alcoholics Anonymous, too. I’m not going to allow alcohol on the premise.”

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Sarah Pulliam Bailey

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