Home Cannabis Holy Herb: Inside Denver's International Church Of Cannabis

Holy Herb: Inside Denver’s International Church Of Cannabis

It’s a busy time of year for religious folks all over the globe. Devout Christians are observing Holy Week, culminating in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter this Sunday. Observant Jews are celebrating Passover, commemorating when God freed the Chosen Ones from the bonds of slavery in the time of Moses. And on April 20, the unofficial annual holiday for cannabis enthusiasts around the world, Elevationists will for the first time open the doors to The International Church of Cannabis in Denver.

You read that right. Elevation Ministries, a Colorado non-profit religious organization, will welcome fellow Elevationists and the cannabis curious to see the refurbished 113-year-old church in the West Washington Park neighborhood.

What is Elevationism? And who are the members of The International Church of Cannabis?

According to the denomination’s website:

Elevationism started in Denver, Colorado with a small group of individuals unsatisfied with the outdated, organized religions currently available to them.

Church members are called Elevationists and our lifestance is that an individual’s spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated and deepened with ritual cannabis use. We use the sacred flower to reveal the best version of self, discover a creative voice and enrich our community with the fruits of that creativity. As a group Elevationists demand the right to congregate and partake of their sacrament together. They do not believe it is just that they be thought of as criminals for carrying out their deeply held religious traditions, no matter how new those traditions may appear to be.

Last July, the group purchased a delipidated 13,000 square-foot church and have been busy the past nine months renovating the interior.

“We were so happy to find a space that already had a spiritual history, and to be able to retain that element in the use of the property,” said Briley Hale, spokesperson for the church. “It’s a great privilege to be able to turn this building around, rather than watching it being converted into condos or left abandoned to attract vagrancy and crime.”

The chapel ceiling has been painted by Spanish church artist Okuda San Miguel, who had, according to the church’s press release created “an uplifting and elevating space for the congregation to partake of their sacrament, and take quiet meditation.”

The front of the church has been painted by Kenny Scharf, whose work is included in the permanent collections of New York’s Whitney Museum and Guggenheim Museum.

The renovation is ongoing — and expensive. To help pay the bills, the church this week launched an Indiegogo campaign.

Curious about the church and its teachings? Here’s some information direct from the official website:

What Is Elevationism?

Elevationism started in Denver, Colorado with a small group of individuals unsatisfied with the outdated, organized religions currently available to them.

Church members are called Elevationists and our lifestance is that an individual’s spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated and deepened with ritual cannabis use. We use the sacred flower to reveal the best version of self, discover a creative voice and enrich our community with the fruits of that creativity.

As a group Elevationists demand the right to congregate and partake of their sacrament together. They do not believe it is just that they be thought of as criminals for carrying out their deeply held religious traditions, no matter how new those traditions may appear to be.

What’s Up With The Whole 420 Thing?

The Christian religion took symbols of fertility like eggs and rabbits and just made them part of their celebrations. Rebirth is the message of the Christian Easter. So those pagan symbols of the cycle of life still reinforce the basic message.

We are doing a similar thing with 420. It is already a symbol of cannabis culture. So, in the spirit of the age, i.e. cultural appropriation, all we have done is decided to make it an important time, date, and number in our religion. It’s still yours, but it’s ours too now.

Can A Jew Or A Muslim Or A Christian Or Whatever Be An Elevationist?

Unlike other systems of spirituality, there is no need to convert to Elevationism. It claims no divine law, no unquestionable doctrine, and no authoritarian organizational structure. So, yes, anyone can become an Elevationist.

Further, Elevationism isn’t necessarily a replacement to existing faith, but a supplement to it. The Elevationist community is not bound together by the singular god or dogma one believes in, but rather by a flower that has positively influenced our lives and our spiritual growth.

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