First Church of Cannabis two years later: financial problems replace protesters

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Wednesday night marked the two-year celebration for the First Church of Cannabis, and the scene was far different from two years ago. And with time, it is becoming harder and harder for the church to stay afloat.

The scene in 2015 included protesters and police. No one was sure what to expect from a church in Indianapolis calling itself the First Church of Cannabis.

But now it is far more quiet. There’s still some buzz inside the church that says it supports legalizing marijuana, but is more about supporting one another about their triumphs and struggles.

“I think people need to share love a little bit more,” said Bill Levin, who runs the church. “They don’t use three words: ‘I love you’.”

But Wednesday’s weekly service only brought in 11 people. And it marked the two-year anniversary.

“Are we struggling? Yes we’re struggling. We need money,” Levin said.

The attendance is so low, several neighbors say they think the church may not be open next year. While Levin didn’t say that, he did say they struggle to pay their electric bills and they’re increasing membership fees more than 100 percent.

“It’s been tough growing. Keeping it going we’re doing, keeping it growing requires money,” he said.

Many have left because you cannot smoke there. The church sued the city and state, petitioning to allow marijuana to be smoked in the church, however, marijuana remains illegal in the Hoosier state.

Some of the state’s top lawmakers have been outspoken about ensuring marijuana in all forms remains illegal in Indiana.

Attorney General Curtis Hill made his view clear in an op-ed last month.

He said in part “legalizing a gateway drug such as marijuana leads vulnerable people to worse substances such as methamphetamine and heroin.”

But the weekly services continue. The lights remain on. They have donated thousands of socks and coats to local homeless shelters, and Levin said he’s proud of what the First Church of Cannabis has accomplished the past two years.

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