Jun 022015
 June 2, 2015

first church of cannabis indianaIndiana’s law that was intended to allow people to discriminate against others in the name of religion has become a ‘public policy Frankenstein’ as one of my old college professors would put it. The law took on a life of it’s own, and has had at least one unintended (yet positive!) consequence. The same freedom of religion law in Indiana has resulted in the state’s first cannabis church. I am friends with the church’s founder (Bill Levin) on Facebook, and it sounds like he is still searching for the location for the church, but has quite a few leads.

This week the church received tax-exempt status from the IRS. Per Marijuana Business Daily:

Marijuana business owners suffering from tax issues may need to find religion: The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana has been granted tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service.

The church, whose founder will grow hemp and reportedly allow cannabis consumption on its premises, was approved by the secretary of state under Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to Forbes.

Churches benefit from being considered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entities and in many cases don’t pay federal or state corporate taxes or state income, excise or sales taxes. They can also extend donors tax deductions on charitable donations.

This move by the IRS is significant for many reasons. I think my friend Jason Thomas of Avalon Realty Advisors Inc. and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition put it best:

As the IRS has given tax exempt status to this first cannabis church, they have given tacit approval that cannabis in this context is recognized as legitimate in tax law and as a new protected class. They already recognize and act on the negative enforcement aspects that licensed cannabis businesses face (ie. 280e) which is the flip side of the same coin. While the IRS’ position on this church may not seem that important, it is. Did you hear the shoe drop?

The first church service is expected to occur on July 1st when the new Indiana law takes effect. All eyes will be on the congregation, and on law enforcement, to see if things go smoothly.

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  15 Responses to “Marijuana Church In Indiana Gets Tax-Exempt Status From IRS”

  1.  

    I hope they make a video of the first service and post it on You Tube.

  2.  

    I hope they make a video of the first service and post it on You Tube.

  3.  

    I was eager to read the article until I saw this utter bullshit: “that was intended to allow people to discriminate against others in the name of religion”. Unless you’re an utter moron, which you’ve proven yourself NOT to be in a myriad of other articles, you know that’s not what it was ‘intended to’ do.
    In case you didn’t really bother to look into it for yourself, and just decided to believe what your TV told you to believe, the law is intended to protect people from being forced by other individuals to violate their conscious and/or beliefs…
    You’ve got facts and the truth on your side, you don’t need to make shit up to make your argument more compelling.
    I expect better from you.

    •  

      So you are okay with cake shops refusing to make wedding cakes for gays? How about barber shops that refuse to cut atheists’ hair? Restaurants that won’t serve Jews? Just because you happen to “believe” something doesn’t exempt you from offering equal access to all members of the public. Belief is impossible to prove but discrimination is not.

      •  

        That’s not what I said. People really don’t read stuff carefully…

      •  

        At what point do business owners have the right to choose how to operate their operations?
        And no, I didn’t way I supported them, but it would seem that people who put all or most of their financial resources into their livelihood should have the right to make decisions about the way they want it to function.
        We talk about weed users having freedom of choice, so the same would seem to apply to business owners…

        •  

          I suppose the folks that ran that lunch counter in Selma, Alabama back in 1960 felt the same way – it was their business, and they could serve anyone they wanted, and refuse service to anyone they pleased. But as it turned out, the Supreme Court decided when any business is “open to the public” that means everyone, no exceptions. Frankly, I doubt you would want to live in a country where that wasn’t true.

          Certainly weed smokers should have the right to use whatever substance they want in their own bodies. But I’m not sure that has anything to do with someone’s right to go in any public business and obtain any goods or services they offer, no matter what their sexual preference, skin color, religion or anything else.

        •  

          All any business that wants to discriminate has to do is look to San Francisco for an example. Just pass a local ordinance that allows businesses the right to refuse service to “anyone”.(in this city, however, being straight, white, and poor gets you on that “anyone” list pretty fast)
          Then you can discriminate against “anyone” you want, without having to bring God into it!

      •  

        “So you are okay with cake shops refusing to make wedding cakes for gays?”

        If the cake has an inscription that refers to a marriage, I can certainly see why some Christians will feel they would be violating their religious conscience to make it.
        Personally I would go out of my way to avoid making people violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, no matter how obnoxious and silly I find those beliefs.
        The less I force other people to do stuff, maybe the less they’ll try to force me to do what they want.

    •  

      So you are okay with cake shops refusing to make wedding cakes for gays? How about barber shops that refuse to cut atheists’ hair? Restaurants that won’t serve Jews? Just because you happen to “believe” something doesn’t exempt you from offering equal access to all members of the public. Belief is impossible to prove but discrimination is not.

  4.  

    I was eager to read the article until I saw this utter bullshit: “that was intended to allow people to discriminate against others in the name of religion”. Unless you’re an utter moron, which you’ve proven yourself NOT to be in a myriad of other articles, you know that’s not what it was ‘intended to’ do.
    In case you didn’t really bother to look into it for yourself, and just decided to believe what your TV told you to believe, the law is intended to protect people from being forced by other individuals to violate their conscious and/or beliefs…
    You’ve got facts and the truth on your side, you don’t need to make shit up to make your argument more compelling.
    I expect better from you.

  5.  

    I was born and raised in IN. it won’t last very long,trust me! The law will be waiting on all the members before and after their services. The first time they catch one with some weed it’ll all be over!

    •  

      No offense, but I’m going to wait and see how it plays out. Public opinion is changing everywhere, thank goodness. Christians are learning that respect for other’s spirituality is a two way street (with a little help from a real Christian, Pope Francis, who unfortunately hasn’t wised up on weed yet).

      •  

        you’re right about everybody attitude toward it becoming more tolerant. I was referring to the local law around there. There attitude is what counts! I just don’t have any faith in them,…….yet. It’s all good and i hope it works out. Peace!!

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