At the International Church of Cannabis, the holy sacrament is smoking weed.
They call their multi-faith religion Elevationism.
The International Church of Cannabis opened on April 20, 2017. Recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012 in Colorado, but it is still illegal to smoke in public places. At their opening 4/20 service, the City of Denver cited the church for public consumption of marijuana and violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act. On Wednesday, February 28, the Elevationists will be going to court to argue that their services are private and invitation-only. There is a possibility that the church will be closed if they lose the case.
"As of today, we are unsure what the future holds," said Lee Molloy, one of the church's co-founders. "It is our belief that the City of Denver should not be wasting the resources of the taxpayer being concerned about an all-volunteer congregation of adults who are doing no harm to the community."
The tenets of Elevationism are fairly simple. The church says that their members can believe whatever they want to, and that using marijuana will help them to discover those beliefs.
"There are as many pathways to Elevationism as there are Elevationists. We're all on our own individual, spiritual journeys," said Molloy.
"We believe that cannabis is a sacrament. It's a sacrament that helps you on your path and on your journey to self discovery, and really helps you elevate your understanding of your own life and your own spirituality," said Steve Berke, another co-founder of the church.
Berke goes on to explain that people of any faith background can be an Elevationist.
"Elevationists believe that there's more than one path, that everybody can have their own path to spiritual righteousness. We basically believe in the golden rule, which is treat others as you'd want to be treated, and we allow people to keep their dogmatic religious beliefs. You can still be a practicing Christian and an Elevationist. You can be a practicing Jew and an Elevationist," said Berke. "No need to convert."
Services are held every Friday evening, and consist of a band or musician and a guest speaker. Attendees can light their cannabis off of a ceremonial candle, which is lit with a prayer every morning.
While they remain open, not everyone is allowed to attend the International Church of Cannabis. Visitors must be 21 and over, according to marijuana consumption laws in Colorado.