The First Church of Cannabis Inc. has been approved by Indiana’s secretary of state after the state’s religious freedom legislation became law last week.
The church’s founder Bill Levin said he filed paperwork in direct response to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last Thursday. Secretary of State Connie Lawson approved the church as a religious corporation with the stated intent “to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all.”
Cannibis is listed as the church’s sacrament in its doctrine, Levin said, and he will set up a church hierarchy. The church will plan to grow hemp, he said, though it will not buy or sell marijuana.
“If someone is smoking in our church, God bless them,” Levin said. “This is a church to show a proper way of life, a loving way to live life. We are called ‘cannataerians.’”
Marijuana is currently illegal in Indiana for both medical and recreational use, so the church could test the application of the new law. RFRA prevents Indiana’s government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion if it can demonstrate that it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.