Examining the development of cannabis churches and religious freedom

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Examining the development of cannabis churches and religious freedom

The last of four exciting presentations planned this week for my Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform seminar concerns the intersection of marijuana use and religion claims.  Here is how my student describes her project along with her selected background reading:

DENVER, CO – APRIL 11: Church owner Steve Berke, middle, stands for a portrait with the rest of his crew inside the International Church of Cannabis at 400 south Logan street on April 11, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. They are from left to right: Alec Rubin, Adam Mutchler, Angie Hargot, Steve Berke, Briley Hale, Dave Bogue and Lee Molloy. The interior painting was done by artist Okuda San Miguel. The members of this new church call themselves Elevationists and say that the use of cannabis helps elevate people to a higher form of themselves. They plan to open their doors to the public on April 20th and have a weekend of events planned for the neighborhood to introduce people to this new and unique concept for a church. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

Since its founding, religious freedom has remained a core value of the United States.  Recently, small groups of individuals have tried to apply this core value to the use of cannabis, specifically with establishing “cannabis churches.”  These churches offer congregants a space to come together as a community and consume cannabis as a way to experience a new level of spirituality.  Cannabis churches have popped up in both states where recreational consumption is legal (in Colorado, for example) and in states where recreational consumption is illegal (Indiana).

In Colorado, the founders of the International Church of Cannabis have been charged with public consumption.  In Indiana, the founder of the First Church of Cannabis asserts that his church is protected under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  As more cannabis churches are established in other states, the main question that church founders will need to answer is whether the use of cannabis is a sincerely held religious belief deserving of protection.

Links:

• “Cannabis Churches and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

• “Future of public pot smoking in Denver may be impacted as International Church of Cannabis co-founder heads to court Tuesday

•  “About Us” page for the International Church of Cannabis

• “How The First Church of Cannabis Got Serious

• “Smoking Cannabis Is Not Covered Under Religious Freedoms Law, Says Indiana Judge

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2019/04/examining-the-development-of-cannabis-churches-and-religious-freedom.html

Assembled readings on specific topics, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Religion, Who decides | Permalink

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