Is this place of worship actually a church or is it coverup to run an illegal dispensary? Two religious establishments in San Jose, California are facing such scrutiny locally after announcing they would offer marijuana to churchgoers.
Coachella Valley Church includes everything you might expect from a normal church: pews, altars, images of Jesus. But you’ll also find attendees lighting up and entire room dedicated to marijuana storage. Members of the church have access to that room and can purchase products at a discounted price, as afforded by the church.
“We’re a church,” responded Coachella Valley volunteer Sebastian Grey, when ABC13 asked if they were a dispensary.
“It’s just a $10 donation to be part of the church and then you’re a lifetime member… you’re able to show your ID, we’ll get you checked in, and you can go in the back, purchase products,” Grey also added.
City officials have been investigating Coachella Valley, as well as Oklevueha Native American Church, commonly referred to as ONAC. Both offer members cannabis. City officials don’t fret over churchgoers lighting up, but instead the sales and distribution occurring within the building.
Some believe that because the city limits the amount of dispensaries to 16, these churches were developed as a loophole. A judge recently filed an injunction for ONAC to stop operating within the next 10 days and reports indicate the judge will soon file a similar injunction against Coachella Valley.
“Whatever their followers want to smoke, that’s not the issue,” said Rick Doyle, the city attorney for San Jose. “It’s the distribution and sale coming from the dispensary. The church issue just doesn’t fly.”