Indiana NORML Applauds Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ Focus

INDIANA:  In a press conference, Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced that the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will no longer prosecute citizens for possessing less than an ounce of cannabis.      Indianapolis now becomes the first Hoosier city to exercise “lowest priority” status for dealing with simple possession of small amounts of cannabis.

According to , this policy shift is expected to dramatically reduce the number of marijuana possession arrests made by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Department law enforcement officers.   “For many years Indiana NORML has worked diligently to address the severe racial disparities in arrests and prosecutions for simple possession of cannabis and to advance civil liberties,” said Smith.  “We’ve also fought for Hoosiers’ right to use medical cannabis with a doctor’s prescription to treat chronic pain and other medical and emotional conditions, so patients can live in peace, without fear of arrest, and criminal prosecution.”

Though INORML has advocated for these changes for decades, the efforts of many of the INORML Board of Directors has intensified over the past months in many different areas.   “These efforts have included face-to-face meetings with several elected officials, including representatives of the Marion County Prosecutor’s office, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council, and numerous state and local officials over the last several months,” said Bill Groth, Indiana NORML Board of Directors. “We are most pleased that our efforts have finally resulted in a sound, compassionate, and permanent reassessment of law enforcement priorities as they relate to possession of cannabis.”

In the interim, the organization looks forward to working with other public officials to enact similar policies across the state to bridge the gap until the Indiana General Assembly decides to finally take direct action to resolve our detrimental and outdated cannabis laws.

Survey: More Than One In Five Military Vets Uses Cannabis Medicinally

INDIANA:  More than one in five military veterans engage in the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, according to nationwide survey data conducted on behalf of The American Legion. The Legion is the largest veterans’ advocacy organization in the United States.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said they “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.” Thirty-nine percent affirmed they “know a veteran” who is using it medicinally. Eighty-three percent of respondents said they support legalizing medical cannabis federally.

Previously published survey data reports that military veterans consume medical cannabis at rates greater than those of the general population, often using it as an alternative to conventional medications in the treatment of pain and post-traumatic stress.

In late October, Democrat members of the US House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs authored a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin demanding that the agency facilitate protocols to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans.

In September, representatives from The American Legion addressed a separate letter to VA Secretary Shulkin encouraging the federal agency to assist in an ongoing FDA-approved clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of various strains of cannabis in veterans with PTSD. To date, the VA has refused to assist in patient recruitment for the trial. The VA has yet to publicly respond to either letter.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

‘Cannabis For Kids’ Legislation Filed In Indiana

INDIANA: State Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, expects her medical marijuana bill to be assigned to the “graveyard committee” again by the speaker of the House.

But a marijuana-related bill introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jean Leising, a Republican whose district includes southern Henry County, stands a much better chance of being enacted.

Errington is calling Leising’s Senate Bill 72 “a good step.”

Leising chaired an interim study committee that addressed whether cannabidiol (CBD) oil should be made legal for the purposes of treating seizures in children. The committee voted 10-0 in favor of proposed legislation (SB 72) aimed at providing immunity from prosecution to Hoosier doctors conducting trials on the effectiveness of CBD oil for treating seizures.

First Church of Cannabis Files Suit

INDIANA:The First Church of Cannabis is going to court for the right to use marijuana as part of its sacrament under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration law.

The suit, filed in Marion County Court, is asking for an injunction against the state and city of Indianapolis to prohibit members of TFCC from being prosecuted for using marijuana as part of their sacrament.

Attorney Mark Small says that under RFRA, the state’s marijuana law put an undue burden on his clients when it comes to practicing their faith and he adds the government does not have a compelling interest in limiting their religious liberty.

You can hear Small’s comments in the Leon-Tailored Audio above, as well as TFCC founder, Bill Levin.  It runs under 10 minutes.

 

Meet The Jewish Grand Poobah Of The First Church Of Cannabis

INDIANA: Athough he grew up at the Reform-affiliated Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, Bill Levin recently founded a church. And not just any church — the First Church of Cannabis, for which Levin will serve as the Minister of Love.

Sound like a joke? Not to Levin, although he tends to refer to himself in church dealings as the Grand Poobah. And apparently it’s no joke as well to government bureaucracy: the church was approved by Indiana’s secretary of state Connie Lawson in March and recognized last week by the IRS as a tax-exempt religious organization.

The Times of Israel caught Levin in a phone conversation in his new premises on the south side of Indianapolis. The area, known for tattoo parlors and head shops, is home to a 150-seat sanctuary that has been used as a church for the past several decades.

 

Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis’ Clarion Call To The Pot Faithful

By David Rheins

With a shock of spiky white hair and an ever-present smoldering cigar, Minister of Love Bill Levin sits relaxed in an overstuffed chair covered in animal print and ponders a post-prohibition America.  A perennial Libertarian candidate and one of the forces behind Re-Legalize Indiana, Bill is an unlikely figure to be challenging Republican Governor Mike Pence and the Hoosier State’s newly minted “Religious Freedom Act.”

 

A Portrait of the Poobah in Rolling Papers

A Portrait of the Poobah in Rolling Papers

But here he sits, regal beneath a steampunk portrait of him made entirely of rolling papers. The Grand Poobah of The First Church of Cannabis, Levin has brilliantly turned the red state’s Religious Freedom Act into a tool to challenge Indiana’s outdated cannabis laws.  And in doing so he has captured the hearts and minds of supporters from around the country, and around the globe, who have responded with massive outpouring of love, media attention and cash donations.

2015-05-30 17.44.10

The First Church of Cannabis is an undeniable success: barely 90 days old, and has attracted hundreds of new members, thousands of dollars of donations and nearly 35,000 Facebook followers from around the world to the cause. Last week the IRS affirmed the Church’s non-profit status, and Bill sees his movement as part of an unstoppable tide of reform washing across the country.

First Church of Cannabis

MJNewsNetwork traveled to Indianapolis to sit down with charismatic Minister of Love.  In an exclusive two-part interview, MJNN explores the Cannabis Church’s “New Deity Dozen” – twelve common sense principles for the modern Cannabiterian (#1 is “Don’t Be An Asshole”), his motivations for starting the church, and what exactly he expects to happen on July 1st when hundreds of congregants will BYOB – bring their own bud – to the first service.   Enjoy!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcXANy3CRcY&w=420&h=315]

 1) Don’t be an asshole. Treat everyone with Love as an equal.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CytRdnjUugw&w=420&h=315]

Marijuana Church Ruled Tax Exempt

INDIANA:  Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Act, which critics say allows discrimination of gay people. However, there is another unintended side effect, where The First Church of Cannabis is now allowed to smoke marijuana and have tax exempt status, even though weed is not legal in the state. Ben Mankiewicz (What The Flick?), Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show), and Ana Kasparian (The Point) hosts of The Young Turks discuss.

“Indiana’s marijuana-smoking church has been incorporated as a tax-exempt religious organization by the Internal Revenue Service according to the church’s founder.

Bill Levin, the founder of the First Church of Cannabis, a controversial group looking to test the limits of Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act by indulging in the smoking of marijuana during “church” services said the IRS notified him earlier this week about the group’s tax will allow donors to deduct their contributions.

“It means people in higher tax brackets will be more generous with the church,” said Levin to News and Tribune. “There have been people who want us to succeed but they’ve [been]waiting [on]our 501©3 exemption.”

 

 

Judge Rejects Rastafarian Faith As Defense In Marijuana Case

INDIANA:  An Indiana judge has rejected an argument by a man who asked that his marijuana possession charge be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor because he follows the Rastafarian faith.

Jerome Scott that he was being charitable to others by cultivating marijuana to ease ailments from chronic back pain to cancer, the South Bend Tribune reports. St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward Miller said he still broke the law.

“I understand there are many people who agree with you that marijuana should be legal, but you’re in the wrong state for that,” she said. “What you knowingly and deliberately did in Indiana is break the law by not only cultivating it, but also distributing it.”

Followers of the Rastafari faith, developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, believe cannabis is a holy herb, and smoking marijuana is considered a sacrament that brings peace, wisdom and a spiritual connection to nature.

Indiana Church Plans Pot-Smoking Worship Service In Test Of Religious Freedom

INDIANA:  Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis plans to host its inaugural worship service July 1, the same day the state’s controversial religious freedom law takes effect. If all goes according to plan, the service will offer a bold test of the law’s ban on government burdens on the exercise of religion.

Adherents of the recently established church worship cannabis, which is illegal to grow, use or possess under state law.

The first service, church founder Bill Levin says, will open with “Amazing Grace” played on harmonica by a popular young musician and move to a quick sermon and short member testimonies about positive things that happened in the past week.

And then, as anticipation mounts in what’s likely to be a packed house, Levin will issue a call to worship and the sanctuary will fill with smoke.

Whoops: Indiana’s Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Act Opens The Door For The First Church of Cannabis

INDIANA:  In a classic case of “unintended consequences,” the recently signed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana may have opened the door for the establishment of the First Church of Cannabis in the Hoosier State.

While Governor Mike Pence (R) was holding a signing ceremony for the bill allowing businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds or values, paperwork for the First Church of Cannabis Inc. was being filed with the Secretary of State’s office, reports RTV6.

Church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that the church’s registration has been approved, writing, “Status: Approved by Secretary of State of Indiana – “Congratulations your registration has been approved!” Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.”

Levin is currently seeking $4.20 donations towards his non-profit church.