Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis intends to hold its first toke-filled ceremony on July 1st, where they hope that freedom of religion laws will protect them from marijuana possession charges. Following in their footsteps, here’s instructions on how to smoke weed legally in Indiana…
Step 1: Take advantage of a controversial new law drafted for the purpose of allowing business owners to discriminate against the LGBT community
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed by Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence in March, has ignited an enormous backlash from social activist groups and celebrities alike, most claiming that the law was meant to supply a legal defense for businesses that refuse service to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual.
Governor Pence has denied this motive, but his case is hurt by previous remarks including a statement made in 2000 that “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.”
Step 2: Erect a church
The First Church of Cannabis hasn’t actually crossed that one off the list yet. Though the church raised over $10,000 through a crowdfunding campaign on Go Fund Me meant to secure a venue, they’re yet to find their own religious sanctuary. Not to worry though. Church founder Bill Levin told US News that he will find a space, in the news site’s words, “come hell or high water… be it a religious campground, private land or a public park.” You could get a mean campsite for $10,000. Imagine what the outdoor grill pit and outhouse facilities must look like.
Step 3: Call a lawyer
A really, really good one. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t actually stop the 5-0 from slapping cuffs on you if you transgress against the law in the name of the lord. It just gives you a defense months and, likely, thousands of dollars in court and lawyer fees later.
According to First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh, the argument that religious rights protect an individual or church from state or federal cannabis laws has been “almost uniformly been rejected.” Volokh elaborated: “I know of no case, even in the Ninth Circuit, where a religious defense to marijuana possession ultimately prevailed.”
Establishing that the First Church of Cannabis was founded on sincere religious beliefs might prove to be difficult, even though its spiritually refined twelve tenants include: “Do not be a ‘troll’ on the internet,” “Do not poison [your body] with poor quality foods and sodas,” and “Spend at least 10 mins a day just contemplating life in a quiet space.” Given the enlightened air of these ant-soda and troll commandments, it’s surprising that the church’s “Grand Poobah and Minister of Love” Bill Levin is better known for his secular cannabis legalization activism than for disciplined religious study and meditation.
But hopefully the worshipping goes off without a hitch come the first of July. The plan is to commence with a rendition of “Amazing Grace” and end, according to Levin as “we [the congregation] explode in glory and we all dance around the hall.” Or they could just smoke weed in their apartment and not get arrested. Hallelujah.
Photo via the First Church of Cannabis Facebook Page