canada africa partner reservation Cannabis Church wants to be taken seriously while staying true to its purpose

Cannabis Church wants to be taken seriously while staying true to its purpose

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The 317 Project tells stories about life in Indianapolis’ vibrant neighborhoods – 317 words at a time. Do you have a tip for a story in one of Indianapolis’ neighborhoods? Let us know at [email protected].

On a Wednesday evening, in a neighborhood some know as Dogpatch, the Grand Poobah prepares to deliver his gospel.

Bill Levin, 68, walks down the aisle of the First Church of Cannabis at 3400 S. Rural St. A shock of white hair moves back and forth as Levin waves between the pews and tells each of the dozens of congregants, “I love you. ”, before wrapping them in a bear hug.

It has been almost nine years since Levin — “Grand Poobah” is his favorite church title — preached his first sermon. The church received 501(c)(3) status in May 2015 and held its first service on July 1, the day Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act went into effect.

Since its founding, the church has faced obstacles. In 2018, a state appeals court rejected his latest call for members to partake in the “holy sacrament.”

Levin and his fellow ‘Cannatarians’ therefore provide their services in other ways. Levin gives a sermon of about five minutes, after which members take turns sharing their concerns. Finally, everyone recites the “divine dozen,” twelve principles that begin with “don’t be an asshole” and end with an affirmation of marijuana as the “healing plant.”

The church could exist in another state with fewer obstacles, but Levin has no desire to leave.

“This is my home,” he said. “If my house doesn’t agree with me, I will change the way I view my house.”

Levin believes he will live until the day marijuana becomes legal in Indiana. For now, his church is focused on combating homelessness, although that may prove difficult. Levin said some food banks are refusing to answer his calls.

Still, he is determined to try. Despite what outsiders may think, Levin believes his goal is one that most people can get behind.

“Try to make the world a better place, that’s all,” he said. “I’m retired. What else should I do?”

Contact IndyStar reporter Bradley Hohulin at [email protected]. You can follow him on X/Twitter @BradleyHohulin.