Yahoo News is reporting that the recently established First Church of Cannabis has recently been awarded tax-exempt charity status by the Internal Revenue Service.

The Church was founded earlier this year in the wake of the signing of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that’s where Church founder Bill Levin says Indiana Gov. Mike Pence provided the “fertilizer” for his new religion. Bill is a 59-year old-carpenter who originally rallied against the law but claims that in the wake of its passing he was “born again.”

Bill Levin

Bill Levin

The Church of Cannabis defines God as love and declines to characterize its deity as anything else. Adherents do not subscribe to any canon of spiritual texts either, but they do share basic principles with the major world religions: namely, to treat others with kindness and compassion.

“Old magic books have nothing to do with our religion. We are new and refreshing without all the guilt, sin and judgment,” Levin told Yahoo News.

The Church already claims over 700 members, and new members are welcomed for a mere $50.40 per year. The Church’s followers, who often refer to themselves as “Cannabiterians,” follow a set of 12 laws, or as they call them, a “Deity Dozen,” the most important of which is law No. 12:

Cannabis, “the Healing Plant,” is our sacrament. 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.

As an extension of this rule, Levin plans to lead his followers in an enlightened worship ceremony that will include the partaking of marijuana. His church has also organized a Go Fund Me page to raise support towards a permanent home for the organization’s future worship.

“We’re going to do all the good things that churches do. Celebrate life, love, compassion and good health,” Levin said. “Everyone is going to leave in a happy, spiritual, healthy way.”

The Church plans to hold its first worship ceremony on July 1st, though details about where exactly the service is to be held aren’t yet available, and probably for good reason. While Levin himself doesn’t fear any legal ramifications due to the freedoms he believes the RFRA allows him, legal experts aren’t so sure.

Daniel O. Conkle, professor of law at Indiana University, says it is highly doubtful that The First Church of Cannabis will not face consequences. Under RFRA, if charged with possession of an illegal substance, the church would have to demonstrate to a court of law that its marijuana use stems from a genuine religious belief rather than a contrived excuse to get high.

“I would say their ability to make that showing is probably pretty doubtful in this case,” Conkle told Yahoo News.

Assuming that this first major challenge to Indiana law holds up, expect young folks in flyover states to start finding religion again.

Via Yahoo News.