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First Church Of Cannabis Says No To Weed, Yes To Court

M. Martin Vicente

Indiana's First Church of Cannabis will not be using any of its namesake herb at the inaugural service scheduled for Wednesday. But its founder still plans to end up in court.

Bill Levin, founder and "Grand Poobah" of the church won’t allow any pot smoking due to threats of arrest at his first church service booked for Wednesday afternoon at a repurposed church on Indy’s south side.

"We’re not going to get into a brawl with a police force who has already show their voluntary ignorance about our religion," Levin says.

The Marion County prosecutor and chief of the Indianapolis police department threatened Friday to arrest anyone who participated in the service and urged people to stay away. Levin says he doesn’t approve of the way IMPD chief Rick Hite has painted his church and won’t play along.

"This is religious persecution at its finest," Levin says.

Levin says he plans to file a civil lawsuit soon, instead of letting the matter end up in criminal court.

Levin’s cannabis church could be a possible direct test case to Indiana's religious freedom law, which goes into effect July 1 and protects people from government intervention in the name of religious liberty.

Ryan Delaney works on the Innovation Trail project - covering technology, economic development, startups and other issues relating to New York's innovation economy.