State Watch

Judge dismisses Cannabis Church’s case defending weed as religious sacrament

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A judge ruled that Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis cannot use marijuana as a holy sacrament.

Marion County Superior Court Jude Sheryl Lynch rejected the church’s case that marijuana smoking should be protected as a religious sacrament under Indiana’s Religious of Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), NBC4i reported Sunday.

Lynch wrote in her opinion that the state has a “compelling interest” to regulate marijuana and therefore marijuana is not protected under the RFRA. 


“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.

“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,” she added. 

Vice President Pence passed the RFRA in 2015 while he was governor of Indiana. It was intended to protect religious individuals from unnecessary government interference.

Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) applauded the ruling in a statement to Fox 59 news.

“I appreciate the court’s fidelity to both the law and to common sense,” Hill said in a statement. “Indiana’s laws against the possession, sale and use of marijuana protect the health, safety and well-being of Hoosiers statewide. When the state has justifiable and compelling interests at stake, no one can evade the law simply by describing their illegal conduct as an exercise of religious faith.”

The founder of the First Church of Cannabis wrote on Facebook that they will be appealing the judge’s decision.

“I love you. We lost. We are appealing … and so it goes,” Bill Levin wrote.

Tags Bill Levin Cannabis First Church of Cannabis holy sacrament Indiana Indiana Marijuana Mike Pence Religious of Freedom Restoration Act

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