No weed at weed church

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no-weed-at-weed-church.jpgThe First Church of Cannabis announced that its first service Wednesday will not include marijuana due to an advanced warning from police.Church founder Bill Levin, who anointed himself the Grand Pooh-bah and Minister of Love, asked his followers on Facebook to refrain from bringing pot, which they intended to smoke as a sacrament, to their inaugural meeting.

"The Police dept has wagged [sic] a display of shameless misconceptions and voluntary ignorance. We will do our first service without the use of any cannabis," he wrote.

Levin, a 59-year-old carpenter, said that his Indianapolis-based house of worship would have a better chance securing its right to get high for spiritual purposes if his congregants were not dragged to criminal court.

"We will meet them in a civil court where the laws are clear about religious persecution," he continued. "We do not start fights. We Finish Them!"

In May, the First Church of Cannabis, which Levin had founded two months earlier, was designated a nonprofit organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

Cannabis is currently illegal in Indiana for both recreational and medicinal use. But Levin argues that the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act should protect them from legal consequences for smoking the plant for religious purposes.

Several supporters expressed disappointment with the church's decision not to proceed with using the drug at its inaugural service as an act of civil disobedience.

"Make them arrest everyone/anyone, and make the state waste tax dollars blatantly in the open to see how much cannabis prohibition really costs," one supporter posted to the group's Facebook wall.

The church responded to many of these complaints with a quote from attorney Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who thinks the decision is a brilliant move from a "tactical perspective."

"You avoid the hassle of criminal charges, but instead you go to civil court to challenge the law. For standing to sue, generally speaking, you need an injury or threat of injury, causation and redress. The ... threat of arrest and prosecution is enough to get you there. Bill Levin is not stupid."