DENVER ― The International Church of Cannabis is slated to open its doors on April 20 and welcome the first-ever congregation of “Elevationists,” as it calls its members.
The church’s stated purpose is to serve as “a home to adults everywhere who are looking to create the best version of themselves by way of the sacred plant.” Just how that will be achieved is still up in the air, but church leaders told 9News that programming is expected to include guest speakers, comedians, artists, musicians and film screenings.
And while city officials ― and skeptical neighbors ― are concerned that founders Steve Berke and Lee Molloy are merely exploiting a legal loophole to create a cannabis club, the two promise the church isn’t just a smokescreen for illegal activities. No marijuana will be sold at the church.
“First and foremost, this is a community church,” Berke told Denver publication Westword. “There are rumors that this is a rasta smoking lounge or a nightclub. It’s not. It’s a safe place to congregate and consume.”
“Elevationism is about elevating one’s life and spiritual self-discovery through the sacrament of cannabis,” Molloy added. “I grew up in an evangelical, Pentecostal religion with people speaking in tongues and falling on the floor. If those people are considered a real religion, then why not us?”
“Elevationism is not a replacement to your existing faith. It’s more a supplement to it.”
Berke told KDVR he doesn’t intend for Elevationism to take the place of other religions.
“Elevationism is not a replacement to your existing faith. It’s more a supplement to it,” he said. “You can be a Christian and an Elevationist. You can be Jewish and an Elevationist.”
This new church is housed in a building steeped in history.
The 113-year-old structure in Denver’s well-heeled Washington Park neighborhood was most recently inhabited by a Lutheran congregation. The Spanish muralist Okuda San Miguel has since painted the vaulted ceilings with colorful, geometric designs.
To see what the church looks like on the inside, watch the church’s IndieGoGo campaign video: