Religious Law

Parishioners at Church of Cannabis avoid criminal charges, plan civil suit

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Parishioners at the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis left their pot at home when they gathered for a service on Wednesday, the same day that Indiana’s new religious freedom law took effect.

Police had announced in advance that any pot smokers would be arrested, and officers were posted outside the church, report the New York Timesand the Indianapolis Star. As a result, church founder and “Grand Poobah” Bill Levin lit a cigar during the time he had set aside for marijuana smoking.

Levin wants a legal fight to test whether parishioners’ marijuana smoking is allowed under the religious freedom law, but he wants the case to be fought in civil rather than criminal court. He told church-goers that lawyers were working on the next steps to test the law.

“This is not just smoking pot and getting high,” he told the Times. “It’s about the birth of a new religion. I’m a smile harvester.”

The Times called the service “part dance party, part comedy routine and part heartfelt, personal testimony from those in attendance about the medical use of marijuana.”

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