- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2015

The IRS has incorporated an Indianapolis marijuana-smoking church as a tax-exempt religious organization.

Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis, was notified of the approval last week, which will now allow donors to deduct contributions on their taxes, the CNHI Indiana Statehouse Bureau reported Saturday. IRS documents provided by Mr. Levin confirmed the agency’s approval, CNHI said.

“Somebody at the IRS loves us because we got it back in less than 30 days,” Mr. Levin told Tax Analysts’ David van den Berg.

The church is currently in negotiations for two spaces in Indianapolis and plans to “proselytize the wonderfulness of the gift that this plant is to our human nature,” Mr. Levin said.

So far, more than 600 members have paid amounts ranging from $4.20 to $1,000 to join the church, Mr. Levin said. Fundraising is being conducted partly on gofundme.com, where the church has raised over $10,800.

The church’s first service is scheduled for July 1 — the day the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act goes into effect.

The recreational and medicinal consumption of marijuana is still illegal in Indiana, posing an issue to members of the church, or “Cannabiterians,” who believe in using the drug on a daily basis as a sacrament. Mr. Levin said he started the church to test the application of the new law that bans government from interfering with the exercise of religion, CNHI reported.

The secretary of state has already officially recognized the church as a religious, nonprofit corporation, according to state officials, with the stated intent “to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all,” CNHI reported.

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