The First Church of Cannabis was dealt a serious blow when an Indiana judge ruled early this month that church members could not legally partake in cannabis consumption as part of their religion. The church, which is a real church and has been recognized as one since 2015, considers cannabis use part of a sacred religious experience and thus believes that all parishioners should be exempt from state and local laws prohibiting cannabis use.
Judge Sheryl Lynch vehemently disagrees. “It would be impossible to combat illicit drug use and trade in a piecemeal fashion that allowed for a religious exception that would become ripe for abuse,” Lynch wrote in the ruling. “Failure to regulate all marijuana in Indiana would leave a gaping hole in our state’s drug prohibitions. There is just no way to tailor these laws more narrowly without undermining the entire enforcement scheme.”
The First Church of Cannabis is not giving up. Church leader Bill Levin known as the “Grand Poohbah” at the church posted on Facebook that the Church planned to fight the ruling. The church has quite the battle ahead of them. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by former governor Mike Pence is designed to protect the “many people of faith [who] feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.” It was mainly drafted so restaurants could discriminate against LGBTQ customers and pharmacists could refuse women birth control. If the church were able to use the provisions in this law to win their case, this could potentially change the way cannabis laws are enforced across the nation.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Image Source: copblock.org
How will this case turn out? Will the First Church of Cannabis win their legal battle? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!