Meet the state-recognised church of cannabis
The First Church of Cannabis has been recognised as a church and charitable organisation in Indiana, despite the drug still being illegal in the state.
The church doesn't worship cannabis but celebrates it as a way of bringing people "closer to love".
It was founded by 59-year-old Bill Levin to protest a new law in Indiana which protects the religious rights of businesses - it could allow a florist to refuse to cater for a gay wedding, for example.
Campaigners against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act argue that the law will allow companies to discriminate against certain faiths, and the LGBT community.
Bill's response was to highlight the law by pushing its limits and forming his own church in March - his theory being that the state, by its own laws, had no right to intervene.
It was an unusual protest idea which seems to have worked a bit too well - the church has now been recognised by the state as a charity, and therefore has official recognition. That's despite cannabis still being illegal in Indiana.
The commandments of the First Church of Cannabis
- Don't be an a**hole. Treat everyone with love, as an equal.
- The day starts with your smile every morning. When you get up, wear it first.
- Help others when you can. Not for money, but because it's needed.
- Treat your body as a temple. Do not poison it with poor quality foods and sodas.
- Do not take advantage of people. Do not intentionally hurt anything.
- Never start a fight, only finish them.
- Grow food, raise animals, get nature into your daily routine.
- Do not be a "troll" on the Internet; respect others without name-calling and being vulgarly aggressive.
- Spend at least 10 minutes a day just contemplating life in a quiet space.
- When you see a bully, stop them by any means possible. Protect those who cannot protect themselves.
- Laugh often, share humour. Have fun in life, be positive.
- 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.
Writing on its Facebook page, the church wrote: "What a GLORIOUS DAY it is folks... Absolutely BEAUTIFUL...HAPPY TUESDAY! Our NOT FOR PROFIT 501 C3 status came in today... WE ARE 100 % a LEGAL CHURCH... All say HALLELUJAH and SMILE REAL BIG!... We are OFFICIAL!"
They are now looking for a building to turn into their first chapel, and are planning to hold its first service on July 1, the day the Religious Freedom Restoration Act comes into force.
The organisation, whose members call themselves Cannataerians, has already raised $15,000 in an online campaign to get itself started. And of course, as it's a church and a charity, all donations are tax free.
So what is the church? According to its Facebook page, it operates on 12 key commandments, including not being an internet troll, growing your own food, smiling first thing in the morning and protecting victims of bullying. The church also has no "God" as such, saying that God is a sexist term (why can't it be Goddess?). Instead, they say, they worship "love".
Of course, whether they will risk arrest by actually smoking cannabis at their first service remains to be seen ...