Step Inside The Technicolor World Of The International Church Of Cannabis

Caution: May induce a "transcendental experience."
A photo of the interior of the International Church of Cannabis.
A photo of the interior of the International Church of Cannabis.
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At Denver’s newest church, the aim is to have a mind-altering experience.

The International Church of Cannabis opened its doors on Thursday after a number of legal roadblocks and considerable media buzz. Painted with vibrant, rainbow-colored murals by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel and American artist Kenny Scharf, the church is a vision to behold.

“When one takes the sacrament and meditates on the meaning of the murals, one may have what feels like a transcendental experience,” states the church’s website. “In those moments, one receives the meaning one requires at that time.”

Members of the church are known as Elevationists. Their faith holds 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.”

As Elevationist Lee Molloy told The Huffington Post: “When we ritually take cannabis our mind is elevated and we become a better version of self.”

See inside the vibrant new church below:

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The church is housed in a 113-year-old structure in Denver’s well-heeled Washington Park neighborhood.
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The church opened its doors to the public on April 20 -- a day memorialized by marijuana enthusiasts as a sort of "high" holiday.
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The interior painting was done by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel. American artist Kenny Scharf painted the church facade.
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San Miguel has painted church spaces in the past. In 2015 he transformed an abandoned Spanish church into a psychedelic skate park. The following year, he gave an abandoned Moroccan church his technicolor treatment.
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The members of this new church call themselves Elevationists and say that the use of cannabis helps elevate people to a higher form of themselves.
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The church will not have a formal hierarchy, Elevationist Lee Molloy told HuffPost.
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Church members refer to cannabis as “the sacred flower.”
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Ritual use of cannabis dates back over 3,000 years and can be found in a number of world religions.
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One of the earliest recorded mentions of cannabis comes from The Vedas, a set of ancient Hindu texts.
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Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, but it is still illegal to smoke in Denver’s public spaces.
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For now, all programming and ritual cannabis use at the church will be by invitation only.
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The church also does not sell marijuana or accessories.
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Church owner Steve Berke, middle, stands for a portrait with the rest of his crew inside the International Church of Cannabis. They are from left to right: Adam Mutchler, Angie Hargot, Steve Berke, Briley Hale and Lee Molloy.
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The space was most recently inhabited by a Lutheran congregation.
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An IndieGoGo campaign to fund repairs on the building has raised over $30,000.
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Some local residents have expressed concerns about the church, but members insist their intentions are good.
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An amendment proposed in the state’s House of Representatives to the church’s legality was shot down almost immediately on the day of the establishment's opening.
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“This is not just a bunch of lazy stoners getting together to get high,” Steve Burke, the church’s landlord and one its founding members, told the local KUSA station. “We really want to positively impact Washington Park West neighborhood. We want to do great things for the community.”

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