The International Church of Cannabis is unlike any church you have ever seen. Painted like a rainbow fractal, the art of the church’s interior looks like a cross between Dali and the infamous creepy paintings at the Denver Airport. The church is a refuge for Elevationists or those who seek to explore their own self through cannabis enlightenment. More and more attention has been garnered on the church, who for now are a private group, but one day, hope to open to the public.
You will find the church, of course, in the American cannabis capital, Denver Colorado. Denver has some of the most liberal marijuana consumption laws on the books. While you technically can’t host public cannabis smoking events, you will find designated smoking areas in most public marijuana events. The church currently operates off of a private list, due to the current laws. There are no legal venues for public consumption which has led to the creation of “private” groups – a slight loop hole in the laws.
The church has been gaining world wide attention with articles featured in the New York Times and the Guardian. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the church, who still have pending charges against several of the founders. The charges stem from the church allowing public consumption on the premises during a 420 event when they first opened. The church is fighting it, but they have enemies in the state capitol. One of Colorado’s representatives, Dan Pablon told the NYT about the church, “[the church] offends both religious beliefs everywhere as well as the voters’ intent on allowing marijuana in Colorado.” Pablon went as far as to propose a bill that would ban smoking of marijuana in churches throughout the state.
According to Lee Molloy, one of the church founders, “Being an elevationist means being an explorer. Our spiritual journey is one of self-discovery, not dogma.” One thing that should be taken from the experience of the Church of Cannabis is that there are no spiritual rules, no religious books, only the beliefs in one’s own spirituality, whatever that may be. According to Lee, “There are as many pathways to being an elevationist as there are elevationists.”
Regardless of one’s opinion on marijuana, no one can deny that the amount of time, and effort put into painting and remodeling the church have truly transformed it into a modern day work of art. Besides the incredible murals on every wall, you will find an array of old school arcade video games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles statues, and what could only be described as a homage to pop culture. The International Church of Cannabis is unlike any church you have ever been to and has a feel more like the world’s greatest man-cave, as opposed to a place of spiritual worship. As one strolls through the main hall of the church, the smells of cannabis are abound. The church’s member roster has been growing steadily and Lee and the other founders believe that similar churches like it will continue to pop up around the world as more people are finding spiritual relief in marijuana.
Cory Hughes is a former police officer turned cannabis cultivator and writer. After years of being on the wrong side of the law, Cory decided to hang up his badge and gun and move into an industry that truly has the potential of bringing people together. He has been an active part of the Colorado cannabis culture and has worked as a horticulturist in dozens of licensed grow operations. Cory now looks to share his knowledge of cultivation and horticulture with the world.