For First Church of Cannabis, Ganja is Godly

A new ministry based in Indiana treats marijuana as a sacrament.

ByABC News
June 15, 2015, 12:34 PM

— -- These aren't your traditional Holy Rollers.

The First Church of Cannabis, established in Indianapolis, Indiana, will launch its inaugural service on July 1, joining an emerging trend of marijuana-based ministries such as The United Cannabis Ministry of California and Hawaii and The Healing Church of Rhode Island.

Though unaffiliated with one another, all are united in at least one principle of worship: Ganja is godly.

"[I was] inspired by love and my compassion for fellow humans," First Church of Cannabis founder William Levin told ABC News, regarding his decision to form the mission. "We had a lot of fertilizer in our state thanks to our governor, so it bloomed quickly..."

Timed to debut the same day the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) goes into effect, the First Church of Cannabis has already attracted more than 42,000 followers on Facebook and is expecting a massive attendance at its first meeting, said Levin, who will lead sermons.

The self-titled "Grand Poobah" and "Minister of Love" said his service format will include four introductory songs, followed by an "interactive celebration of life."

"At the end, we all rise and read the Deity Dozen, and at the end of the 12th Pathway we light up," he said.

Tenets of the Deity Dozen, a sort of Ten Commandments for the church's cannabiterian membership, range from starting the day with a smile to spending 10 minutes per day in quiet contemplation to "Do not be a 'troll' on the internet."

"Cannabis, 'the Healing Plant' is our sacrament," reads the description of the 12th Pathway. "It brings us closer to ourselves and others. It is our fountain of health, our love, curing us from illness and depression. We embrace it with our whole heart and spirit, individually and as a group."

While the church has no legal authority to grow, sell, trade or donate cannabis in the state of Indiana, congregants will be free to smoke on church premises, under the protection of the RFRA.

But attendees should not expect to hear psalms, gospels or feel pressured to even use the words "amen" or "hallelujah."

"We will not use any old books," Levin said. "No guilt, sin or judgement. We teach the teachings of love and life... Same as the old guys did, just with a modern pitch to it."

Many who have gotten a whiff of this message have responded enthusiastically online.

"Please let me know if there is any way I can help with the building of this church," wrote one follower of the church's Facebook page. "Our world needs more love and it seems like this church WILL do that."

"I'm not for religion, personally," echoed another comment. "Much more on the side of spirituality and freedom of choosing one's way from many paths, if need be. However ... I have more faith in this being a genuinely GOOD religion than most other paths in this country. Thank you all for running with this! One Toke, One Smile, One Love, all!"