The same day Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, paperwork was also submitted to register The First Church of Cannabis Inc. as a non-profit organization.
The church, founded by Bill Levin, promoted the filing with the Secretary of State via Facebook, and pointed out,
“Cannaterians… would seek love, understanding and good health.”
Via Bill Levin Facebook Page
The recently enacted controversial law prevents the state (Indiana) government from “substantially burdening” a person’s right to exercise religion only if it can demonstrate that it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
First brought to light by local Indiana politics reporter, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, this law may be helpful for members of The First Church of Cannabis and others who use the plant as a religious sacrament. Now, in order to press charges, the state government would have to prove a compelling interest in preventing a person from using cannabis as a sacrament.
Arguably, that may not be possible considering the fact that nearly half of the United States have legalize the medicinal use of marijuana, and four states have legalized recreational use. Indiana state government officials have their work cut out for them.
Shabazz notes several instances of active religions that cite cannabis consumption as part of their rituals — Hindu, Buddhist, Rastafari.
As for Levin’s efforts, all members of the First Church of Cannabis will be asked for a donation of $4.20 a month.