Holy smoke! The church of cannabis – The Guardian

The Observer

As congregations dwindle, a new religion is lighting up Denver, Colorado. Aaron Millar joins the ‘elevationists’ of the International Church of Cannabis who worship the weed

High hopes: members of the congregation in the Church of Cannabis. Photograph: Ryan David Brown The Observer Holy smoke! The church of cannabis

As congregations dwindle, a new religion is lighting up Denver, Colorado. Aaron Millar joins the ‘elevationists’ of the International Church of Cannabis who worship the weed

It started, naturally, with a group of friends smoking a joint. Steve Berke, a graduate of Yale University, was temporarily living in an old church in Denver, Colorado. His estate agent parents had bought the 113-year-old building with the plan to turn it into flats. He and Lee Molloy, as well as a few friends, had just moved from Miami to capitalise on Colorado’s lucrative marijuana market. But then, in the words of Lee: “We started having these stupid, fantastical conversations. What if we kept it as a church?” So Steve convinced his parents to give him the building and, nine months later, on 20 April 2016 – 4/20, as it’s known in the United States, the unofficial pothead’s holiday (because it’s 4.20pm somewhere, right?) – the International Church of Cannabis opened its doors with its own chapel, theology and video game arcade.

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