Religious Views Growing Around Marijuana
Trevor Douglas tried to explain to the Colorado state trooper that it was OK for him to have a little marijuana and a pipe in the car with him because he is a card-carrying member of a church devoted to cannabis-centered spirituality.
"It's Christianity with cannabis as the main sacrament," the 25-year-old Avon man says. "I use it to be completely in touch with the spiritual world and to discover my higher self. Cannabis has been used in religions before written history."
Similar religious views are gaining ground in Colorado. Like-minded faithful opened THC Ministry in Boulder five months ago. (THC is the short name for tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant.)
Can a plant or any substance be the focus of faith? Douglas says Catholics use wine in their worship.
However, Douglas' plea for religious freedom from the trooper ended with a misdemeanor citation. He faces trial March 9 for possession.
Douglas says he is part of the same religious movement as Roger Christie, a Steamboat Springs native who founded the first THC Ministry, in Hilo, Hawaii.
Christie founded the ministry with the stated purpose of liberating "the sacred cannabis," or hemp plant, from those who do not revere it, and to nurture spiritual practice with this plant at the center.
THC Ministries also are in Los Angeles and Bozeman, Mont.
The Rev. James Marks heads the THC Ministry in Boulder, where, he says, "we have ceremonies and sessions and offer fellowship."
Some ceremonies are about consuming cannabis, he says, but there are also baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc.
Marks says THC Ministry secured recognition of its legal right under federal law to use cannabis as a religious practice in the mid-1990s.
Marks refers to himself as a "canna- theist." He consumes cannabis in many forms and uses it for anointing.
Marks was ordained a minister by the Universal Life Church, which describes itself as the only denomination in the world to allow anyone who wants to be ordained to be ordained.
Marks says he personally worships Jesus Christ, yet the THC Ministry is for anyone — Buddhist, Shintoist, Jew, Pantheist and so on — who wishes to use the sacred substance of cannabis.
About 100 people enjoy fellowship with him, he says. "We've had a very warm welcome in Boulder."
Douglas says he is not affiliated with THC, but was a member of The Church of Universal Sacraments. It no longer exists, he says, but the church's demise didn't really affect his religious practice.
"It's not a church or a religion like you would picture," Douglas says. "We gather with friends and family. There is no formal ritual. Religion is your life. It's a misconception that you have to go to a church to be spiritual. The best place to do that is in nature."
Church to ponder pot
At least one evangelical Christian church is interested in exploring whether smoking pot is compatible with Christianity. Missio Dei in Fort Collins will discuss the biblical take on the use of medical marijuana and recreational use of the drug — if it becomes legal — at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mulligan's Pub, 2439 S. College Ave.
For more information, call the church, 970-672-9139, or visit MissioFC.com/theologypub.
- Article from The Denver Post.