Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis has found a home, despite marijuana use still being illegal in the state. The new church announced last night it is opening a location on the eastside of Indianapolis at thirty-four-hundred South Rural Street. The church’s founder, cannabis enthusiast Bill Levin, refers to himself as the Minister of Love and Grand Pooba of the Church. Members of the church call themselves Cannataerians and say they follow The New Deity Dozen, a list of twelve commandments Levin created. Commandments include “don’t be an internet troll” and “cannabis, the healing plant, is our sacrament.” Levin says that his religion is not based on worshiping cannabis, rather it focuses on celebrating life, love, and good health.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act inspired Levin to create his church. He says he wanted to see what he could accomplish under the RFRA, which prohibits the government from infringing on certain religious practices. The Internal Revenue Service deemed the First Church of Cannabis a nonprofit organization and granted the church tax-exempt status. Gifts to the church by donors can be deducted for tax purposes and the church itself is eligible for a property tax exemption in the state. The church has received considerable public support, and has received more than fifteen thousand dollars in donations on its Go Fund Me page.
The first service has been set for July first, the same day that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act becomes law. Levin says that the service will begin with a half-hour of music, followed by a thirty-five-minute service celebrating life. Levin says at the end of the service, worshippers will “spark up”. The church, which is expected to hold one-hundred-fifty to two-hundred members, is looking for volunteers to renovate the site.