Indiana became one of the most controversial states in America when it recently passed a bill allowing discrimination on religious grounds against the LGBT community. That discriminatory law in Indiana may have opened a can of worms that the creators of the new law didn’t envision. Bill Levin created the ‘first Church of Cannabis’ based off of that same law, claiming that the new law protects his church and it’s goers from prosecution in Indiana for marijuana because marijuana is part of their deeply held religious belief. At first church members were going to actually toke up at church services, but after threats from the police, church organizers decided to hold services that didn’t include consumption of marijuana.
Church organizers said that they would rather challenge Indiana’s new law in civil court, not criminal court. I know that bummed a lot of people out, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it was the right decision. It would be much harder to win the hearts and minds of Indiana’s public after there were arrests compared to a civil legal challenge. That civil legal challenge came yesterday when church organizers announced that they have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to try to end marijuana prohibition in Indiana, at least for religious purposes. Per the Indy Star:
By filing its highly anticipated religious liberty claim Wednesday, the First Church of Cannabis has put the question everyone’s been wondering about in the hands of the court:
Is this a real religion?
And does it have a protected right to practice legitimate beliefs?
Some legal experts remain skeptical that the cannabis church’s challenge of Indiana’s marijuana laws will survive for long in front of a judge. But the case focuses on — if a bit unusually — some of the weighty complexities of religious liberty claims and raises lingering questions over how Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act can and can’t be used.
I just hope this lawsuit gets a fair shake. Because it involves marijuana, there will be outrage. However, this case should be decided based off of legal reasoning, not emotion. Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is very broad, and allows many, many things if it’s in the name of religion, even outright discrimination. Marijuana consumption in Indiana, religious or otherwise, doesn’t harm anyone. People are saying that Indiana has to draw a line in the sand, and that the law isn’t as far reaching as the organizers of the Church of Cannabis claim. However, if there’s going to be a line drawn in the sand, I don’t see how that line doesn’t allow cannabis consumption,which hurts no one, but allows almost limitless discrimination, which obviously harms many. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on this case.