Attorney General Curtis Hill today praised a Marion Superior Court decision to grant final judgment in the state’s favor against a small group of marijuana enthusiasts operating in Indianapolis under the name “First Church of Cannabis.”
The pro-marijuana plaintiffs began calling themselves a church in 2015 in order to poke fun at Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which they opposed, and to argue for the right to smoke pot as a matter of religious liberty. On this basis, the group then filed a lawsuit against state and local officials seeking relief from Indiana’s anti-marijuana statutes.
On Friday, the Marion Superior Court concluded that the “church” and its members cannot use “marijuana as a holy sacrament” or sell marijuana in their gift shop.
“It is compelling and appropriate to treat the illicit drug market in a unitary way,” the court stated in its ruling. “It would be impossible to combat illicit drug use and trade in a piecemeal fashion that allowed for a religious exception that would become ripe for abuse.”
Attorney General Hill said the court’s finding should bring closure to a pro-marijuana political crusade that turned into a legal stunt.
“I appreciate the court’s fidelity to both the law and to common sense,” Attorney General Hill said. “Indiana’s laws against the possession, sale and use of marijuana protect the health, safety and well-being of Hoosiers statewide. When the state has justifiable and compelling interests at stake, no one can evade the law simply by describing their illegal conduct as an exercise of religious faith.”