Cannabis Church in Denver to Offer ‘Sacred Flower’ Sacrament

Group of pot smokers in pursuit of a 'love, create and elevate' religion has many neighbors concerned

by Leah Jessen | Updated 17 Apr 2017 at 2:27 PM

It’s come to this: Pot smokers in Denver have formed their own church “religion,” all based on the “high” of the marijuana lifestyle.

The International Church of Cannabis is set to open April 20. Steve Berke and Lee Molloy founded the “church” with a small group of people who were, and still are, “unsatisfied with the outdated organized religions” available.

“This is a safe place to congregate and consume.”

“There are rumors that this is a rasta smoking lounge or a nightclub,” Berke told Westword, a Denver newspaper. “It’s not. It’s a safe place to congregate and consume.”

Members call themselves “elevationists” and will meet in a former Lutheran church building.

“Elevationism is about elevating one’s life and spiritual self-discovery through the sacrament of cannabis,” Molloy told Westword. “I grew up in a evangelical, Pentecostal religion with people speaking in tongues and falling on the floor. If those people are considered a real religion, then why not us?”

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Elevationists consider cannabis the “sacred flower.” They “claim no divine authority, nor authoritarian structure,” the group’s website notes. “Therefore, those of all religious and cultural backgrounds are welcome to visit our chapel and take part in our celebrations.”

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An interesting doctrinal fact is that elevationists do not “convert” to join the church, organizers say, as the belief system “claims no divine law, no unquestionable doctrine, and no authoritarian structure.” People of other faiths can even supplement their existing religious beliefs with Elevationism, these organizers claim.

Some neighbors have raised concerns on social media and to the local government, according to reports.

"I hope they're respectful of neighbors of folks who have lived 50 years on this block," Cat Vielma, who lives across the street from the church, told Denver's 9News.

"I share my constituents' concerns in that I want to make sure we have safe and vibrant neighborhoods and that we have people playing by the rules," Councilman Jolon Clark told the same news outlet.

The cannabis church claims it has every right to gather and demands "the right to congregate and partake of [our] sacrament together."

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Yet the church may potentially run into legal issues. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, but "Colorado law doesn't ban or permit marijuana clubs," according to Fox News.

"Lawmakers are still considering a bill that would let local governments decide whether to allow social pot clubs," noted the Fox report.

As it prepares to throw open its doors, the cannabis church has "a weekend of events planned for the neighborhood to introduce people to this new and unique concept for a church," noted The Denver Post.

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