Marion County prosecutor, IMPD warn First Church of Cannabis attendees of arrests

INDIANAPOLIS -- If you plan on attending the First Church of Cannabis’ first service on July 1, be warned: You could get in some trouble.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry and IMPD Chief Richard Hite hosted a press conference Friday morning about the First Church of Cannabis event scheduled for July 1, warning police intervention for those who attend.

“Anyone who is present in that sort of setting is subject to be prosecuted for visiting a common nuisance,” Curry said.

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Curry suggested that any media covering the event “openly display” their press credentials.

Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis, has said the followers of the church -- cannataerians – would seek “love, understanding and good health.”

RFRA was signed into law in March, then amended on April 2 after much backlash. 

The law states that a governmental entity may not “substantially burden” a person's exercise of religion. But Curry said the law couldn’t be used as a defense if prosecuted for actions on July 1.

“The RFRA act does not create any sort of immunity from prosecution because it’s under the alleged guise of religious practice,” Curry said.

Hite was adamant that the police department wouldn’t allow people at the event to violate the law.

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“As Jim Jones once did within our state; he led a group of people into a place of no return. We don’t want that to happen again in our state,” Hite said. “We want to send a message: This is not the way to challenge a law. You certainly can’t expect the police to stand by and not do something about it.”

Curry ended his statement by sharing his thoughts on RFRA as it pertains to the city and the First Church of Cannabis.

“In Marion County to date, we’ve had 52 homicides,” Curry said. “I am beyond frustrated that we are having to devote valuable time and resources to this matter solely because of an ill-advised and unnecessary law enacted by our legislation.”

Curry noted that his statement doesn’t represent the state of Indiana or the police department.

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