Three years ago, the First Church of Cannabis filed a lawsuit against the state of Indiana for preventing the congregation from using cannabis as holy sacrament. Now, Superior Court Judge Sheryl Lynch has ruled that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn't allow church members to smoke-up.
Cannabis use is strictly prohibited in Indiana. But First Church of Cannabis founder Bill Levin thought he found a loophole around that by using the state's newly adopted Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect his congregation from prosecution. That does not appear to be the case, however, as Judge Lynch has handed down a decision saying the church will not be exempt from Indiana's cannabis laws.
"Permitting exceptions to Indiana’s laws prohibiting the sale, possession and use of marijuana for religious exercise would undermine Indiana’s ability to enforce anti-marijuana laws at all; anyone charged with violating those laws could simply invoke 'religious' exemption, triggering time-consuming (if not practically impossible) efforts to sort legitimate from illegitimate uses," Lynch's statement read.
Lynch has said that the First Church of Cannabis can continue to operate as a church, but they will not be able to sell cannabis in the gift shop or use it as holy sacrament. Religious freedoms, it seems, don't trump cannabis prohibition in America.