Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis — a religion that embraces marijuana as a holy sacrament, newly born under the state’s recently enacted and controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act — sued the state and the city of Indianapolis this week, claiming the state’s marijuana prohibition laws infringe on the church’s religious beliefs.
“Cannabis sativa also known as marijuana or Cannabis, ‘the Healing Plant,’ is the
sacrament of the First Church of Cannabis,” reads the lawsuit filed by the church Wednesday in Marion County Circuit Court. “[M]embers of the Church believe cannabis ‘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 lawsuit claims the state’s laws that make possession of marijuana a felony and the act of “visiting a place where marijuana is used” a misdemeanor or a felony have “substantially burdened” the church’s exercise of religion — a violation of the constitutions of Indiana and United States. Church founder Bill Levin provided The Huffington Post with a copy of the suit.
Levin’s church put Indiana’s fraught new Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the test when it held its first services on July 1, the day RFRA went into effect. However, church members — called “cannatarians” — did not consume marijuana during that service, after law enforcement threatened to arrest and press charges against anyone who did.
“We are taking legal action today to ensure love has no boundaries in our land,” Levin said Wednesday in front of the statehouse about the lawsuit. “Today we invite the state of Indiana and its leaders to joyfully meet us in a court of law for clarifications of our core beliefs. We look forward to engaging them on the high plain of dignity and discipline with love and compassion in our heart to find a swift and sensible answer for our questions on religious equality.”
By Matt Ferner
Read the full story at huffingtonpost.com