The First Church of Cannabis, located in Indianapolis, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the city and the state of Indiana, claiming laws against possession and use of cannabis infringe on its religious beliefs.
The First Church of Cannabis, formed after the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act, filed its lawsuit in Marion Circuit Court in Indianapolis, naming multiple defendants including Governor Mike Pence.
The lawsuit claims church members believe cannabis is a sacrament that “brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group.”
The lawsuit says Indiana laws that make possession of cannabis illegal places a burden on the church’s exercise of religion, violating the state and U.S. constitutions.
“We are taking legal action today to ensure love has no barriers in our land,” church founder Bill Levin said at a Wednesday news conference. “Today we invite the state of Indiana and all its leaders to joyfully meet us in a court of law for clarifications on our core religious values. We look forward to engaging them on the high plane of dignity and discipline, with love and compassion in our hearts, to find a swift and sensible answer for our questions of religious equality.”
The First Church of Cannabis held its first meeting on July 1st, which was attended by over 100 people, and observed by more than 20 police officers.