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Church Of Cannabis Has High Hopes For First Service Despite Police Backlash

Steve Baker

Plans for the first service of the First Church of Cannabis could go up in smoke if anyone partakes of the namesake drug. Marijuana legalization activist Bill Levin  started his church on the day Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, and says he plans to hold the church’s first service on July 1.

"I'll give a short sermon, I mean real short, and do church announcements the way you’re supposed to do," Levin says. "Then we’ll all rise, read the deity dozen, and at the end of the deity dozen we will celebrate life and light up."

Levin says RFRA should allow members of his church to smoke marijuana for religious purposes. Indy Metro Police disagree.

Chief Rick Hite says the force could arrest everyone at the service if even one person lights up. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry agrees with Hite. He says RFRA does not protect religious activities if “compelling state interest” outweighs religious belief.

Curry says he’s spoken twice with Levin to urge him to limit the number of people smoking if all Levin is hoping for is a way to test RFRA in court.

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