Indianapolis’ Church of Cannabis: Defending Marijuana as Religious Rite

Home » Indianapolis’ Church of Cannabis: Defending Marijuana as Religious Rite
Garry Stewart
Written By Steve Brandon

May 14, 2024

the first church of cannabis in indianapolis

Were you aware that there is a place of worship in Indianapolis specifically devoted to marijuana?

Pushing the limits of religious liberties, this institution was established in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, commencing operations on the very day the law was enacted.

“This is my guiding principle, and I place more trust in this faith than any other,” remarked Bill Levin, the founder of the Church of Cannabis in May 2015. “This is my way of life. It is the way of life for millions of people.” Here’s what he meant.

What’s the Church of Cannabis about?

The Church of Cannabis, established by Levin in 2015, emerged in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which former governor Mike Pence signed into law on March 26, 2015, and became effective on July 1, 2015.

Upon the law’s implementation on July 1, Levin promptly inaugurated the church. The First Church of Cannabis aims to “celebrate life’s great adventure by building on compassion, good health, and love.”

While restricted from partaking in the “holy sacrament” of cannabis during their regular Wednesday service, the group has adapted their practices. Typical services commence with a brief sermon by Levin followed by member discussions. They also conduct a “diety dozen,” affirming marijuana’s role in healing. You can find the First Church of Cannabis at 3400 S Rural St. in Indianapolis.

Who founded the First Church of Cannabis?

Bill Levin, founded and led the First Church of Cannabis. He has been advocating for marijuana since the late 1990s, initially working with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) before starting his organization, ReLegalize Indiana.

Levin, a former Libertarian candidate in the early 2010s, focused on marijuana legislation during his political campaigns. When the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed, he saw an opportunity to establish the First Church of Cannabis, based on the ‘Cannatarian‘ religion, centered around love and including cannabis as a sacrament.

the first church of cannabis in indianapolis

The Church of Cannabis challenges Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The Marijuana Church is questioning Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In July 2015, Levin and the Church of Cannabis sued the state of Indiana, Pence, and Attorney General Greg Zoeller. They believe that not allowing them to smoke in public goes against their religious rights.

They also filed another lawsuit on March 3, 2016, against the city of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and former Police Chief Rick Hite.

The lawsuits argued that using marijuana should be allowed at the Church of Cannabis under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. However, the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed the suits in December 2018.

What does our team of My MMJ Doctor think about this first church?

Our team at My MMJ Doctor thinks positively about the Church of Cannabis. We see it as a place where people can practice their beliefs freely, even though it’s different from what many are used to. We admire their commitment and respect their right to worship in their own way.

Take Away

The Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis is a unique institution devoted to marijuana, founded by Levin in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Despite legal challenges, including lawsuits against the state and city authorities, the church’s mission is to celebrate life through compassion, health, and love, with cannabis playing a central role. While its legal battles continue, Levin remains committed to the cause, seeing it as a matter of religious freedom and duty.

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