Mile High City III: The International Church of
Cannabis – birth of a new American religion?
The Mormon faith, a social gospel of wealth form of
Christianity, is historically the only religion that was founded in the United
States and exported to the rest of the world.
On April 20, 2017, with 420 legalization symbolism, the
International Church of Cannabis, ICC, opened its door in Denver, Colorado and
the excitement drew TV and print media from as far away as Japan. My take on this new religious practice
is the church’s mission is to use marijuana to foster peace, happiness, and
love in individuals with the church as a center for the stoner community.
My perception of the ICC is of a secular humanist faith
focusing on developing spirituality in persons and groups with assistance from
pot. A legal precedent for the ICC
exists; the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of select southwestern Native
Americans use of peyote in tribal religious ceremonies. I once read of a group of Jews in Miami
who in the 1970’s apparently tried to form a new form of Judaism around the use
of pot but the experiment quickly folded.
The building, as evidenced in the stained glass windows, was
formerly a Christian church. Registration
as a church should normally furnish the ICC with tax free status with the
assumption that the church will function on sponsorships and membership
financial support. Question: Will
the IRS recognize the ICC as a legitimate church / religion and grant tax
The ICC has transformed the building with wall murals
describing colorful depictions of pot paradise. A Michelangelo of pot has produced a Sistine Chapel of
gorgeous visuals that in my opinion, rival the Church of Rome.
Similar to numerous Reconstructionist Jewish congregations,
music is an important part of the ICC consciousness which also adds rock
concert type lighting.
The ceiling is an excellent example of modern art; detailed
painting, beautiful use of colors, seamless integration of three panel design
The ICC Display Room includes sponsors shown on TV monitor;
pot related items for sale, interesting furniture – notice the blue chair in
background – it has a big pot roach in attached hand to chair arm.
I have always wondered if a new religion or church could
form around the use of pot during group worship and believe that the ICC might
work. The legalization of
marijuana in Denver and ingenuity of local pot entrepreneurs supplies the
financial support needed to sustain the ICC’s goal of becoming a center for the
cannabis using community.
I sense that transportability of the ICC to other states and
cities where marijuana use is legal is possible; think Portland, Oregon;
Seattle, Washington; Portland, Maine; California almost anywhere and so on. My rationale is that the ICC’s platform
lends itself to localization and adaptation and ultimate success. In the meantime, the ICC is an
intriguing social experiment worth paying attention to.