Religion is being used to circumvent marijuana laws in Wisconsin, where it’s illegal to possess cannabis at all.
Break out the puns:
To be blunt, the church, known as the Lion of Judah House Rastafari, was made possible through the joint effort of Jesse Schworck and Dylan Bangert. Both said the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects them and allows them to use marijuana as part of their religious practice.
The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Schworck said he knows his rights and said using cannabis is how people in the Rastafarian religion weed out the bad.
“This is a non-profit church,” Schworck said. “We all use cannabis to meditate and also for the religious purpose for uplifting our mind and our body and our spirit.”
Wisconsin is behind the times when it comes to medical cannabis legalization or decriminalization, so if religion is the loophole they’re using… well, it’s among the least problematic things religion has ever been used to justify.The operators of the “sanctuary” seem open-minded, but they still don’t want people to think they can just walk in and buy weed from their church. (That would certainly get them shut down, assuming they won’t be already.)
Cannabis is used as a religious sacrament. You can’t just roll up and buy it. You have to be a member of their church and make donations to them. Schworck made it clear that they do not sell it and it cannot be gifted to the public.
“We just want people to be sincere in that aspect of the religion,” Schworck said. “We don’t have to agree on everything. We are open. We are all denominational so you can come as you are. Be yourself, share your stories and the things you know. We don’t have a monopoly on knowledge or anything like that. We just try to encourage people to talk and have fellowship together and break bread.”
No monopoly on knowledge? That’s a nice change of pace coming from a religious institution. Maybe other churches should consider lighting up, too.
***Update*** (from Hemant): Schworck tells me they do not, in fact, plan to use RFRA to make their legal case. Instead, they are using “Common law, Universal declaration of human rights, USA constitution free exercise of religion.”
(Image via Facebook)