A historic church building in Denver, CO has been turned into the International Church of Cannabis, a "church" for marijuana lovers that will open its doors on April 20.
KDVR reports that the 113-year-old structure, previously inhabited by a Lutheran congregation, will soon open its doors and welcome the first-ever congregation of "Elevationists," as it calls its members.
Elevation Ministries says the church will "offer a home to adults everywhere who are looking to create the best version of themselves by way of the sacred plant."
States the website: "Our lifestance is that an individual's spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated with ritual cannabis use. Elevationists claim no divine authority, nor authoritarian structure, therefore, those of all religious and cultural background are welcome to visit our chapel and take part in our celebrations."
The International Church of Cannabis will open its doors on 4/20 with a celebration including academic panels, guest speakers, musicians and comedians.
Founders Steve Berke and Lee Molloy told the Denver publication Westword that "Elevationism" is about "elevating one's life and spiritual self-discovery through the sacrament of cannabis."
Molloy said: "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?"
Berke said that that no marijuana or accessories will be sold at the church.
"First and foremost, this is a community church," he said. "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."
He added, "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."
According to the group's IndieGoGo page, it is trying to raise $100,000 to repair and upgrade the 100-year-old church to make it accessible to those with disabilities, such as wounded warriors.
Because this new "church" is housed in a building steeped in history, not everyone is happy with its new purpose.
"I hope they're respectful of neighbors of folks who have lived 50 years on this block," Cat Vielma, who lives across the street from the church, told 9 News.
She also expressed concern about what she called "dual-messaging" from "church" leaders.
"You're kind of moving away from the church you told us about and kind of stepping into this for-profit church place that I don't really feel comfortable with," she said.
Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and the Colorado state constitution authorizes people over 21 to grow their own pot, or to assist someone else in growing pot.