The first church dedicated to worshiping the social aspect of marijuana use has been launched in Indiana known officially as, “The First Church of Cannabis”. Bill Levin, the church’s founder, insists that the church is not dedicated to worshiping marijuana itself, but the interpersonal connections that are created when the drug is used.
Levin said that the church does not distribute marijuana, however it allows members of the church to smoke inside the location. The church currently does not have a building but is raising funds to open one in the near future. The First Church of Cannabis was created on March 26 after the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in Indiana.
The church was recently approved for tax-exempt status
Levin recently celebrated the church’s approval by the IRS for 501c3 status. The status designates the church as a non-profit organization with the same tax status that traditional churches and places of worship receive.
The approval will allow Levin to obtain donations without federal tax liabilities and he posted his excitement at the news on his church’s Facebook page on May 26th saying, “Our NOT FOR PROFIT 501 C3 status came in today… WE ARE 100 % a LEGAL CHURCH… All say HALLELUJAH and SMILE REAL BIG!”
Marijuana remains illegal in Indiana
Although the recreational and medical use of marijuana in the state of Indiana is not legal, the appreciation of the drug is. Levin does not believe that he will get into trouble because he is not selling the drug. He recently set up a Go Fund Me page which has received over $15,000 in donations from around the world. He has also received numerous donations from local donors and marijuana enthusiasts.
Levin said that he founded to church in order to test the limits of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the same act that triggered protests from gay rights groups because of the fear that it would allow businesses to discrimination against homosexuals.
The church is about treating people with kindness
Levin mentioned that the church does not have any spiritual practices, and that it focuses on treating people with kindness and follows some of the basic tenets of other major religions in the world. He said that old scriptures have nothing to do with the church and that he is not affiliated with the Rastafarians, who embrace marijuana usage as a part of their spiritual practices. Levin did mention that he has learned from the religion and that he “borrowed a bit from every religion.”
The first service is planned on July 1st, 2015 once the law goes into effect at a location that has not yet been announced.