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Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis Files a Religious Freedom Lawsuit

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The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana has filed a religious freedom violation lawsuit that Indiana’s Attorney General Curtis Hill has asked a superior court to rule in the state’s favor. The Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher says that the lawsuit is “a political crusade turned legal stunt.”

The state says that the First Church of Cannabis isn’t a religion, they’re just a group of activists “pretending for the basis of the lawsuit”, according to ABC Action News. The battle has been ongoing since July 2015 when the first lawsuit was filed by the church. To the church, marijuana is their sacrament.

Mark Small, attorney for the church said in the beginning of the battle, that, “Their sacrament is marijuana. They believe that it is something that is a positive thing and therefore not being able to smoke it means that they are not able to practice their religion. They cannot engage in their religious society as they would choose to.”

AG Hill argues that the First Church of Cannabis isn’t a real religion. He’s citing 14-factors established in a prior court case from 1996.

The AG’s documents state, “These factors suggest that, whatever Plaintiffs are engaged in, it is not the practice of religion.”

Factors from the 21-year-old case are:

  • Moral or ethical system
  • Ultimate ideas
  • Metaphysical beliefs
  • Founder, prophet or teacher
  • Gathering places
  • Ceremonies and rituals
  • Comprehensiveness of beliefs
  • Keepers of knowledge
  • Structure or organization
  • Important writings
  • Propagation
  • Appearance and clothing
  • Holidays
  • Diet or fasting

The church requests exemption of Indiana’s current marijuana laws. The state argues that the exemption would become a public safety concern and would make things for law enforcement difficult.