Judge Says Cannabis Church Can’t Use Marijuana as a Sacrament – By Solange Reyner (newsmax.com) / July 8 2018
A judge in Indiana on Friday dismissed a Cannabis church’s case defending weed as a religious sacrament, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis argued in a 2015 lawsuit that the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) should allow for an exemption from state and federal marijuana laws – smoking marijuana is illegal in Indiana.
“It would be impossible to combat illicit drug use and trade in a piecemeal fashion that allowed for a religious exception that would become ripe for abuse,” Marion County Superior Court Judge Sheryl Lynch wrote in her opinion.
“Failure to regulate all marijuana in Indiana would leave a gaping hole in our state’s drug prohibitions. There is just no way to tailor these laws more narrowly without undermining the entire enforcement scheme,” she added.
The church had argued that the “government cannot determine what religious beliefs are to be protected.
“Whether one agrees with the beliefs of the church is irrelevant. The church is a religious organization engaged in exercise of religion.”
Bill Levin, the founder of the First Church of Cannabis, on Facebook said he would appeal the decision.
“It’s far from over,” he said. “We are just getting started.”
Attorney General Curtis Hill praised the decision in a news release.
“I appreciate the court’s fidelity to both the law and to common sense,” Hill said. “Indiana’s laws against the possession, sale and use of marijuana protect the health, safety and well-being of Hoosiers statewide. When the state has justifiable and compelling interests at stake, no one can evade the law simply by describing their illegal conduct as an exercise of religious faith.”