June 23, 2015 9:06 am· countercurrentnews
The Supreme Court has long ruled that certain prohibited drugs can be used in religious contexts. Now, one church has gained legal recognition for their right to use marijuana for religious purposes.
The Brazilian-founded religious group, União do Vegetal uses Ayahuasca Vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and Chacruna Shrub (Psychotria viridis) in what they call a program of spiritual evolution based on mental concentration and the search for self-knowledge. The word “Ayahuasca”, translates to “vine of the souls”. The plant is completely illegal in the United States, but the Supreme Court not only ruled that the UDV can use the substance for religious purposes, they can even legally import it from Brazil.
Now, in Indianapolis, Indiana, following the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that became controversial for its apparent intention in suppressing LGBT rights, The First Church of Cannabis become a legitimate establishment and has successfully argued for its legal right to use cannabis in religious ceremonies. Talk about “unintended consequences.”
The politicians who passed the RFRA never actually wanted to recognize the right to use banned substances for religions. They basically wanted to legalize the practice of mostly Christian businesses to prohibit service from homosexuals.
But Bill Levin, the minister and self-described “Grand Pooba” of the cannabis church, saw a gaping loophole that he quickly filed paperwork through, legitimizing his church and congregation legally.
The First Church of Cannabis Inc. was approved the very day the RFRA was signed into law.
They say they want to build their church out of environmentally-friendly “hempcrete,” a material like concrete that has hemp infused fibers mixed in.
Some of the Ten Commandments established by the church include: “Don’t be an asshole,” and “Do not be a ‘troll’ on the Internet,” as well as “Cannabis is our sacrament.”
“We are celebrating life, love, community involvement, and we are doing all the things that churches are supposed to do,” Levin told MSNBC reporters in an interview, shortly after the church was established. “Because we embrace the cannabis plant as our sacrament doesn’t mean we`re sad people.”
The church has also just gained 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service, which explains it adheres to the characteristics of any other church.
“Somebody at the IRS loves us because we got it back in less than 30 days,” Levin explained on the Church’s Facebook page.
(Article by M. David and Jackson Marciana)
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