Interview with Bill Levin, founder of The First Church of Cannabis
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The First Church of Cannabis (FCOC) is exactly what you expect it to be: a church dedicated to the herb. The FCOC was founded by Bill Levin and lists cannabis as its holy sacrament. The church’s laity is called “cannaterians” and Levin states the church plans to grow hemp (but not buy/sell weed).
Founded in March 2015, the church celebrates “life, good health, compassion, and happiness with the cannabis plant,” according to Levin. The FCOC is based in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the few states in the US where cannabis use, even for medicinal purposes, remains illegal.
To learn more about the FCOC, its mission, and vision, Cannabis.info recently spoke with Bill Levin - Grand Poohbah and Minister of Love First Church of Cannabis. Here’s what he had to say:
Cannabis Info: Could you describe the mission of your Church in a few sentences?
Bill Levin: Cannaterians Celebrate LOVE in Life's Great Adventure.
CI: How did you get the idea to start the FCOC? And was it also a way to rebel (against the RFRA for instance) or for it to be purely a tool to fight prohibition?
BL: I have been a minister since 2010. Ever since then, every time I went past a Church I imagined how I would run one. An Honest Love based Church witthout Guilt and Shame as controlling factors. A church where alll are celebrated.
Our religion is based on the Deity Dozen. These are simple modern suggestions on how to live. RFRA certainly fueled my desire to preach and stimulated enough wind for us to set sail.
We are here to help those in need and to create smiles where ever we go. It's a Loving Path we stride with pride.
We are the ONLY religion to ever tell it's patrons to SHARE HUMOR. Let that sink in for a moment... Out of the over 7000 Gods and Goddesses working in various religions today.. Not 1 religion has mentioned HUMOR... We want people to laugh, sing and play, learn something new and fun..
Hug strangers and welcome guests into your hearts. Follow a path of Love and HUMOR...
CI: How does cannabis play a role in the church. Do you believe that using cannabis will bring people spiritually closer to god? In a some “normal” churches, it is a ritual to drink wine for sacramental use, but people don’t really get inebriated by drinking the wine during the service. So how do you make cannabis part of the rituals or services? I also read that recently a judge ruled that Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis cannot use marijuana as a holy sacrament. (I also read that you will appeal this decision.) So what will happen in the mean time?
BL: Cannabis is the healing plant, bring us closer to ourselves and others. We are not permitted to use our sacrement at this time. We are appealling our case with the state. In the meantime, we will help others who can not help themselves. Working with Homeless Outreach groups to feed and shelter others in need.
CI: How can one become a member of your church and how many members does the church currently have? Is there a ritual for becoming a Cannaterian?
BL: We do not tith our members for 10% of their gross income, that is theft in my opinion. We have a simple yearly dues of $125 per person / 5 year membership is $420. There is no ritual, but there are hugs and smiles from all current members.
CI: Is it possible to start a branch of your church in another State or country?
BL: Yes we plan on expanding, but only with people pure of heart. We will not be a mail order ministry. I do not want assholes as ministers. We have a 90 day service and vetting program for all ministers.
CI: Do you yourself have any aspirations to make it a national thing? Like a Church in each state and town? Bill: We will grow as people learn what we are about.
BL: Without a doubt...lol.. We are a positive energy force filled with Love, Compassion and Good Will.
CI: Indiana is one of the last stateswith a very strict policy on cannabis and hemp. Do you think this will change anytime soon?
BL: Indiana will legalize hemp production in 2019, medical use in 2020 and full legal in 2024.
CI: Where do you think your church will be in 10 years? (Or where would you like it to be?)
BL: I would like to see numerous churches around the world.
CI: I read that you were also involved in politics. Is this still the case? How about Bill Levin for President?
BL: LOL!!! Never... I would not wish that on anybody... I am an honest man, which makes me a horrible politician. But I sure do have fun in the political arena. Going toe to toe with politicians in debates is wonderful activity. I encourage everyone to do it. Run for any office and have fun doing it. It's one of the best life experiences there is.. GO DO IT!.. You will never have more fun.