Is religion a gateway drug? In Indiana it may be.
Call it irony or a severe case of unintended circumstances, but Indiana's recently signed and amended Religious Freedom Restoration Act might be used in the not-too-distant-future to allow Hoosiers to skirt the state's laws against smoking marijuana.
RTV6 reported Thursday, March 26, the same day that Indiana governor Mike Pence signed the unamended version of the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, that Bill Levin of the First Church of Cannabais Inc., filed paperwork with the state to register his organization as a non-profit religious organization.
Good news arrived two days later when Levin announced on the church's Facebook page that their application was approved.
THE FIRST CHURCH OF CANNABIS INC. - Status: Approved by Secretary of State of Indiana - "Congratulations your registration has been approved!"
Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love,Understanding and Good Health.
Ultimately I see a HOUSE OF HEMP built with Love by Hoosiers for all to participate in. We will offer family services to help those in need. We will reach our hands out to those that need it. We will love, honor and respect each other.
We will celebrate "ONE UNIVERSAL LOVE" in our daily lives.
LOVE is the cornerstones of this church. ALL WELCOMED!
Levin is currently soliciting individual membership donations from "Cannabiterian" church members of $4.20 per month.
Here's the rub: marijuana is currently illegal in Indiana for both medical and recreational use, and Gov. Pence has gone on record during a 2012 gubernatorial debate saying he opposed any marijuana law reforms and viewed marijuana as a "gateway" drug. RTV6 points out, however, that the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act prevents state government from "substantially burdening" a person's exercise of religion only if it can demonstrate that it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
IndyPolitics.org blogger Abdul Hakim-Shabbazz notes that Rev. Brandon Baker, head of Colorado-based Green Faith Ministries, which uses marijuna as part of its sacrament, believes that Indiana's RFRA would allow for his church's expansion into the Hoosier State.
From our media partner EDGE