For many cannabis consumers, the experience of getting high isn’t just recreational, it’s spiritual. In fact, there are now a number of churches throughout the United States that view the consumption of cannabis as an important spiritual ritual. Unfortunately for one such church, the state of Indiana isn’t convinced. Recently, an appeal by the First Church of Cannabis was dismissed by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Indiana Court Denies First Church of Cannabis
On December 28, the Indiana Court of Appeals announced its decision regarding an appeal filed by the First Church of Cannabis. The appeal was part of a larger case in which the church was seeking exemption from the state’s cannabis prohibition laws.
But the recent decision did not go the church’s way. In fact, the Indiana court’s ruling dismissed the appeal.
“Laws against the possession, sale and use of marijuana are designed to protect the health, safety and well-being of Hoosiers statewide,” Attorney General Curtis Hill said in a statement.
Hill continued: “Our courts have repeatedly upheld their validity. The devout worshippers of the First Church of Cannabis may find more fertile ground in another state to legally consume their favorite sacrament, but they won’t be lighting up in Indiana.”
According to Hill’s statement, this latest decision could be a decisive blow against the church. That’s because the church has already been ruled against in past court cases. And this most recent decision was regarding an appeal to those earlier decisions.
Now that even the First Church’s appeal has been denied, Hill says the church might not have very many legal options available anymore.
The First Church of Cannabis’s Long Legal Battle
The Indiana Court of Appeals’ decision is the latest blow to the church. And it’s the newest chapter in what has become a years-long legal struggle.
Back in 2015, the First Church of Cannabis was officially recognized as a religion in the state of Indiana. Consuming cannabis is one of the church’s primary practices. For church members, it’s a sacrament.
Despite this, Indiana authorities did not allow members of the church to legally consume cannabis. Not even as part of their religious practice.
In response, the First Church of Cannabis filed a lawsuit against the state of Indiana in July 2015. A short time later, Marion County Superior Court Judge Sheryl Lynch ruled against the church.
In her decision, she questioned the sincerity of the church’s belief in cannabis. In effect, the ruling implied that the church was trying to use religious freedom laws as a loophole to get around marijuana prohibition laws.
After the ruling, the church quickly filed an appeal. And now, following this most recent decision, that appeal is dead.
In explaining the Court of Appeals’ decision to dismiss the church’s appeal, Attorney General Hill said the church “failed to show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed.”
Along with filing the legal appeal, the church also sought protection under Indiana’s Right to Try Act. This provision allows patients with a terminal illness to try experimental treatments, possibly including medical cannabis. But Indiana’s courts denied this attempt, too.