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  • ShereeKrider 6:07 pm on September 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bill Levin, , , , , Michigan, Oregon, Religious Freedom Restoration Act   

    Marijuana Missionaries: First Cannabis Church Rolls Into Michigan 


    There’s no religious dogma in this church, but these marijuana missionaries are intent in on bringing ostracized stoners back into the fold.

    By Beth Dalbey (Patch Staff) – September 19, 2016 10:05 pm ET

    Marijuana Missionaries: First Cannabis Church Rolls Into Michigan

    Congregants in this church aren’t high on Jesus. In fact, the very name of the church sounds like lyrics from a rock and (ahem) roll song or the backdrop for a classic Cheech and Chong movie.

    It’s true that First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason’s sacrament might be a doobie or marijuana-infused brownie instead of the body and blood of Christ, and its dogma is steeped in giving thanks to the cannabis plant for its healing nature and the sense of well-being it gives users instead of Jesus’ sacrifices for sinners.

    The church, made up of a congregation of mostly atheists and agnostics, made its debut in Lansing, Michigan, earlier this summer.

    So, how can it be a church if its members eschew a higher power — beyond, that is, the feeling of euphoria they get from smoking pot or the satisfaction of using a sustainable crop for fuel and fiber?

    “Well, the reality is it sounded better than a cannabis cult,” organizer Jeremy Hall told the Lansing State Journal after the congregation’s inaugural service last June that included time for fellowship and a potluck with “both medicated and non-medicated food.”

    First Cannabis Church in Indiana

    The First Church of Cannabis traces its roots to Indiana as a political statement in response to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, backed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, now Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate.

    Self-anointed Grand Poobah Bill Levin has made all sorts of glib proclamations, including the Deity Dozen, which is sort of like the Ten Commandments— for example, “Do not be a ‘troll’ on the internet, respect others without name calling and being vulgarly aggressive,” and “Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.” Also, don’t be a jerk, or words to that effect.

    There are also marijuana-based churches in Florida, Alabama, Oregon and Arizona. Many of them embrace organized religion to one extent or another, but Hall is more resolute in his iteration.

    At the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason in Michigan, it’s all cannabis, all the time — whether in its leafy tobacco form, as fiber for clothing, as a biofuel or for shelter, paper and plastics.

    It’s a miracle,” Hall told The Detroit News. “It can save humanity. Cannabis is something to be put on a pedestal, to be revered.”

    What’s God Got To Do With It?

    An ordained minister with the online Universal Life Church and a marijuana caregiver who originally hails from Ypsilanti, Hall moved back to Michigan from Tennessee in part because legal medical marijuana is available for treatment of his wife’s lupus.

    He hopes congregants at the Lansing church can change attitudes about pot smokers with service projects around the city, like a recent cleanup at a Lansing park.

    From his early youth indoctrinated in the Young Earth Creationist congregation — a fundamentalist church that rejected evolution and forbade the use of radios because it supposedly played the devil’s music — to his new role as the founder of the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason, Hall has experienced both ends of the religious spectrum.

    Though he rejected many of the tenets of his early teachings and other religions, he told The Detroit News he liked the fellowship aspect of church in general and the way a house of worship can gather in people who live on the margins. So he formed a church, taking God out of the equation.

    Still, Hall’s church embodies the WWJD — “What would Jesus do?” — spirit more than you might think, even though it is not rooted in Christianity.

    On a flyer seeking participants in a recent park cleanup, Hall acknowledged that pot smokers “have been demonized in the eyes of the public as miscreants and law breakers, ignorant and unmotivated.”

    So, just as Jesus reached out to the disenfranchised, the church is a chance for Hall and his wife to reach out to people who have been “using cannabis and feeling ostracized” by their regular places of worship, Michigan Radio reported.

    “We’re using our church to elevate the community and to show we aren’t a drain on society or a bunch of unmotivated criminals,” Hall told the Lansing State Journal.

    Pot City, Michigan?

    Not surprisingly, the church, located in the shadow of four medical marijuana dispensaries, has some detractors.

    The Rejuvenating South Lansing citizens’ group, which wants more restrictions on dispensaries, worries the church further mainstreams marijuana use and will draw more users to the city.

    “This is just another way they can do whatever they want,” Elaine Womboldt, the group’s founder, told The Detroit News. “We don’t want to be known as the pot city of Michigan.”

    Also, at the first service earlier this summer, a lonely protester, Quaker traditionalist Rhonda Fuller, of Lansing, held a sign that warned the only people who benefit from marijuana are profiting financially from it: “It’s about money, not you. It’s misery for everyone else.”

    Fuller told The Detroit News it’s unconscionable to call the First Church of Cannabis a church.

    “Anyone can call anything a church,” she said. “It has nothing to do with Christianity — but neither does most churches.”

    CONTINUE READING…

     
  • ShereeKrider 2:27 pm on July 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: : Current Events, Bill Levin, , , First Church of Cannabis, IMPD, Indianapolis, Indy, , , , , religious freedom, RFRA, weed   

    The Cannabiterians and the cops 


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    THE COPS

    Charlie Doss stood outside his house on South Rural Street and watched the cops rumble by on their motorcycles.
    “You’d think they were gettin’ ready for World War Three,” he muttered. The police presence in his neighborhood was making Charlie cranky.
    “What’s the big fuckin’ deal?” he announced.
    Roughly two dozen patrol cars and a mobile IMPD unit sat at the ready in the parking lot of the Carpenters Local Union building two blocks from the First Church of Cannabis. Officers seemed to be everywhere; on foot, on bicycles — like so many other cities in America in recent years, Indy’s police department looked less like a group of peacekeeping constables and more like an occupying force.
    IMPD was out in strength for the opening services of Bill Levin’s brainchild, the First Church of Cannabis, an “unintended consequence” of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration law. After gaining tax-exempt status from the IRS, Bill had planned his inaugural ceremony for the day the law went into effect — July 1, 2015.
    Bill had initially stated that his congregants would partake of their sacrament — weed — at the end of the service.
    Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry had responded to Bill’s intentions with a press conference. Curry expressed monumental frustration with the Indiana legislature, but made it clear IMPD would have all the plastic cuffs it needed: “Anyone caught in possession of marijuana will be subject to arrest … anyone caught giving marijuana to another individual will be subject to arrest for dealing.”
    And further, as NUVO’s Amber Stearns reported on June 26:
    Curry outlined all of the potential causes for arrest at the church service. Anyone attending the service, if marijuana is present, could be subject to arrest for probation violation or for visiting a common nuisance even if they choose not to partake in the church’s “sacrament.” Anyone who tries to drive away from the church while high is subject to arrest for operating under the influence. Any and all possible criminal code violations will be enforced. He also stressed that no minor child should be in the vicinity of the church.

    Worried about a mass bust — including those who simply might’ve shown up to sing and not smoke — Levin prohibited weed at the church for the July 1 services. 

    CONTINUE READING…

     

    City-County Councilor voices concern over city’s response to First Church of Cannabis
    Posted By Amber Stearns @AmberLStearns on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    IMPD was present in large numbers at the inaugural service of the FIrst Church of Cannabis. - PHOTO BY ED WENCK

    Indianapolis City- County Councilor Zach Adamson issued a statement calling into question the actions of the city and specifically the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in their response to the First Church of Cannabis.

    The church held their first service Wednesday at noon following the enactment of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    Adamson says the views expressed in his statement are his own and are not meant to reflect the sentiment of the entire council.

    Adamson’s statement reads as follows:

    Yesterday, as Hoosiers watched as several new state laws took effect, one issue of particular local interest has been a bit more high profile in the news. Specifically, The First Church of Cannabis, as they push the limits of the liberties the state says they wanted to protect.

    Sadly, more than the reaction of the state, the OVER-reaction by local authorities has been of greater disappointment. Indianapolis residents have watched over the weeks as the media wars on both side of the issue have battled it out on both mainstream and social media.

    “I’ve been very troubled by the reaction by our city and the by and large overreaction by our police chief, who actually compared this religious institution’s leader to Jim Jones. That’s a jaw-dropping comparison to a horrific crime and it is an insult to the lives that were lost in that tragedy. It is even more disappointing to see this overreaction using scarce public safety resources during a time of great need in our neighborhoods”, said City-County Councilor Zach Adamson.

    Adamson continued, “Many residents have rightfully raised concerns about the city’s inappropriate use of taxpayer resources to fund harassment of this minority religious group. After reading several media reports of selective enforcement of municipal ordinances, the undue installation of police surveillance cameras – at a time when so many of our areas hardest hit by crime don’t have such attention – and the literal recruitment of opposition protesters by the mayors IMPD chief, many fear that Chief Hite’s actions have exposed the City of Indianapolis to expensive and preventable civil liabilities for violations of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, among others.

    As our city saw with yesterday morning’s homicide on the near northwest side, we need more officers on the streets and more dollars for neighborhood policing strategies – not unwarranted harassment.”

    The Council intends to take all possible actions to give IMPD the necessary tools they need to prioritize enforcement and we hope that we can pull back this encroachment onto the religious freedom of our residents. We call on the public safety agencies to allocate the officers and cameras where our residents have, for years, been begging for them and stop this highly inappropriate use of scarce taxpayer resources. We also call on Chief Hite to issue an immediate apology for the inappropriate invoking of the Jonestown Massacre.

    CONTINUE READING…

     
  • ShereeKrider 5:11 am on May 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill Levin, , Cannabis Church, , ,   

    RFRA and Church of Cannabis: Partake or bust? 


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    J&C readers 12:14 p.m. EDT May 22, 2015

    Question: Bill Levin, an Indianapolis resident, said he plans to hold the first services of his newly created, marijuana-devoted First Church of Cannabis on July 1, the day Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act goes into effect, to test the new law. How should police and the state handle the situation?

    • They should ignore it. The war on (some) drugs has been an unqualified failure, needlessly destroying countless lives and trashing the precepts of our Constitution. Considering that the original federal RFRA was passed to protect the religious use of peyote, I think this is a perfect response.

    Rob Keeney

    Flora

    • Arrest him, and let him try his defense. I assume that’s what he’s expecting. Surely he’s not as stupid as the people who attacked RFRA as if it gave carte blanche.

    Roger Bennett

    Lafayette

    • This is why we have the Establishment Clause: the minute you start getting the government mucking around with religion — as RFRA does — you get into all sorts of nasty corners, like this one. The law is pretty clear the state cannot interfere with their religious behavior, so this this is an example of "hoist on one’s own petard" in action.

    Brian Capouch

    Monon

    • Presumably he will be supported by all Christians who supported the law in the first place. The police should go investigate real crimes. Be careful what you wish for, Christians, you might get it.

    Mark D. Rumps

    Lafayette

    • I don’t think drug use is covered under the law. I say bust him.

    Mark Acles

    Lafayette

    • Well, they wanted to protect "religious freedom" with this law, didn’t they? Since when should the government determine what qualifies as a religion? This is what happens when we try to mix church and state.

    Noemi Ybarra

    Lafayette

    • Abe Lincoln asked, "If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs would it have?" His answer: "Four. Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg." Calling a criminal enterprise a church does not make it a church and should be punished as a crime.

    Tom Haynie

    Buffalo

    • If you think this case is a problem, be glad they amended this monstrosity, or Indiana would be headed toward daily media humiliation. This case is directly similar to the one that started the federal RFRA.

    Randy Studt

    Lafayette

    • I thought the new law was to protect the religious rights of all people? How about the Flat Earth Society? I have it from good authority that in the Star Trek Universe, there is a Flat Universe Society.

    Furman A. Powell

    Lafayette

    • The media created the controversy by exaggerating RFRA to make Gov. Mike Pence look bad. They got their wish. Liberals tend to be the master of unintended consequences, so most rational Indiana residents already expected this type of action. Expect more legislation, more unintended consequences, more wasted tax dollars.

    Dan Sommers

    West Lafayette

    • Join them. Sarcastically, it’s pretty much like I said when you asked a very similar question last December before the state legislature convened: "You’ll see recreation marijuana legalized long before selling ‘to go’ alcohol on a Sunday."

    John Kuntz

    Fowler

    • Any law enforcement or state officials that show up should "take communion" just like everyone else attending the service.

    Bryce Culverhouse

    Lafayette

    • Close the church down, it is illegal in the state of Indiana.

    Carolyn Foust

    Lafayette

    • Shut him down and treat him to a period of time in jail. He is trying an illegal scam, and it will not work.

    Harold Williams

    Shadeland

    • The exact opposite of how they probably will handle it. Honest to goodness.

    Mike Dudgeon

    Lafayette

    • I think it is obvious — if it fits the law, then leave them alone.

    Pat Rund

    Romney

    • This is what no one needs. This is Indiana, for goodness sake. Obviously, one of the more conservative states and this sort of weirdness only makes the underlying message more difficult to get out and for the public and for businesses to take seriously.

    Bill Cochran

    Lafayette

    • If he is following the RFRA, and if the act is to allow religious freedom, what can they do? There is nothing in the law to prevent this church from practicing the rites of its religion.

    Mary Finnegan

    Lafayette

    • Let Bill worship his idol, pot. But, should Bill or any of his followers hurt someone when "all hopped up on dope," the penalty is clear. Bill claims no faith in religion; me, either. My faith is in Jesus, who said, "No one comes to the father but through me."

    Jon Held

    Lafayette

    • Lock them up and throw away the key.

    Jack Lahrman

    Sheffield Township

    • The police and the state should attend the church of their choice.

    David B. Dobbin

    West Lafayette

    • Why should the police or the state get involved unless their newfound religion is infringing on someone’s rights? The less we have Big Brother controlling our thoughts and actions, the more liberty and freedom citizens can preserve.

    Edward Priest

    Battle Ground

    • Under the law for Indiana and marijuana, this would be a criminal act. Indiana police and the state should treat this fairly, as any one who breaks the law. I would hope the dealer’s arrested and faces Indiana courts, as anyone who commits a criminal act.

    Shelby Branstetter

    Lafayette

    CONTINUE READING…

     
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