First Church of Cannabis files suit against Indiana

Bill Levin, Church of Cannabis leader, filed the lawsuit.
Published:
Updated:

The First Church of Cannabis has filed suit against the State of Indiana and Marion County. The lawsuit cites a violation of the church's religious rights.

The church, which started holding services at the beginning of the month after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act took effect, claims that Indiana state laws that make possession of marijuana or visiting a place where it is used a punishable offense place a "substantial burden" on the church's exercise of religion.

Read the text of the lawsuit here.

The church's inaugural service drew interest from out of state, and from media across the country. There was no lighting up, though, and Indianapolis Metro Police had a beefed-up presence outside. 

The church attracted several protesters from the neighborhood who were concerned about its stance on marijuana.

A few days before RFRA went into effect, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry warned, "Everyone needs to understand that the RFRA act does not create any sort of immunity from prosecution because it's under the alleged guise of religious practice."

With over 52 homicides in Marion County this year, Curry expressed his frustration with the law that sparked the debate.

"Our office and police agencies have serious public safety issues we have to address every single day. I am beyond frustrated that we are having to devote valuable time and resources to this matter solely because of an ill-advised and unnecessary law enacted by our legislature," he said. "The act serves no purpose, no purpose whatsoever, other than political posturing."