A former Lutheran church in Denver, Colorado, is about to become a marijuana sanctuary called the International Church of Cannabis. It will open on the de facto stoner holiday, April 20.
The Elevationists, as they call themselves, say they seek to “offer a home to adults everywhere who are looking to create the best version of themselves by way of the sacred plant.” The ‘home’ has ceiling and walls painted in bright, vibrant colors and geometric shapes.
The church also plans to sponsor documentary screenings, speaking events, and musical performances.
“Our lifestance is that an individual’s spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated with ritual cannabis use,” the church’s website states. They are currently working to raise $100,000 on Indiegogo for updates to the 100-year-old church, including adding access for people with disabilities, replacing the boiler to keep the church warm in cold months, and fixing broken windows. However, local outlet Fox 31 notes there may be a legal gray area when it comes to consuming cannabis at the church:
“Cannabis consumption at the church might raise some legal issues. Colorado law doesn’t ban or permit marijuana clubs, but many opened as tourists said they needed somewhere to legally smoke.
“Lawmakers are still considering a bill that would let local governments decide whether to allow social pot clubs. The bill would also allow any jurisdiction to ban them altogether.”
Though the church claims it will be the “first large venue in the world where cannabis can be legally consumed in a social environment,” other cannabis churches have cropped up across the United States.
One of those is the First Church of Cannabis in Indiana, which achieved tax-exempt status from the IRS in 2015. It operates as a non-profit organization and was started because founder Bill Levin “wanted to test out Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is meant to protect all people’s religious practices from government intervention,” Newsweek reported at the time.
The church’s website implies it is safe to smoke marijuana at the church even though weed remains illegal in Indiana. Another cannabis church in Michigan, the First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason, also provides for marijuana use on the premises. The state of Michigan allows medical marijuana.
Regardless of which organization is allowing cannabis use first, the church in Denver appears to be one of the first of its kind in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, meaning it could draw far bigger crowds than states where it is still banned or limited.
Regardless, the three churches all stress that — outside of their belief that cannabis is a powerful sacrament and vital to humankind’s progress — they do not have any rigid religious doctrines. People of all beliefs are welcome, a gesture symbolizing the unifying, peace-making power these churches believe cannabis holds. In fact, one of the First Cannabis Church’s founding principles is to “spread the message of love and civility.”
As the new International Church of Cannabis explains:
“Elevationists claim no divine authority, nor authoritarian structure, therefore, those of all religious and cultural background are welcome to visit our chapel and take part in our celebrations.”