Bill Levin, “minister” of the Cannaterians church, says there is no hope that
Indiana would ever legalize recreational use of marijuana unless the whole world liberates it from prohibition.
Cannabis church argues the use of cannabis is sacramental. No Rastafarian would ever question that.
Indystar.com posted an article on the first cannabis church in Indiana. One church member comments on the aftermath of the election results on the church’s Facebook page: “You will probably have to be stoned to get through the next few years.”
Bill Levin opened his church in July 2015, but has been a marijuana activist for a long time. He believes he has an unlikely ally in the American Legion who called for research on the possible benefits of cannabis to veterans suffering from mental health problems related to combat. In this investigation, Levin sees potential change in state legislation allowing medical marijuana.
A civil lawsuit was filed last year by the Cannabis church against the state and public officials, including current Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the then governor. The church fights for the First Amendment’s right to freedom of religion and Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to allow the use of marijuana in the church.
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Marijuana is sacramental
The church argued in court that marijuana is sacramental and “brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression.”
The American Legion passed a resolution calling for cannabis to be reclassified by Congress as a drug with medicinal value. Levin says the American Legion is in favor of cannabis, and they carry more weight than anyone else. “You do not mess with the vets,” he says, “everyone knows that, the GOP knows that, the Democrats know that, the Libertarians know that.”
Sessions might not know that
Nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, might not know it unfortunately. He has no appreciation of marijuana having any benefit to anyone, and has made his stance very clear.
The church being under threat of city leaders, they decided to abstain from using marijuana at the inaugural service. Well, at least not officially. The lawsuit has been dragged out for more than a year, and is not scheduled for trial until November 2017. There are sure to be some legal debate and arguments on the meaning of “sacrament” and the sincerity of Levin’s religious beliefs.
The church is suing for sacramental use, not recreational use, along with defamation. After former IMPD Chief Rick Hite compared Levin to infamous cult leader Jim Jones, he took offense, calling the statement “religious bigotry” and a “vulgar insult to this new religion.”
The cannabis church holds services on Wednesday nights, and Levin says Indiana was blessed with some of the very best weed. He happily says being grilled in a deposition was great fun, and his absolute love for everyone made it a pleasant experience. He says, ‘I’m Bill Levin. I love you.’”