The International Church of Cannabis has opened its doors in Denver. No, it is not a Rasta church with men and women with dreadlocks chanting Psalms. It is a church like any other Christian church across the United States except church members are encourage to get high in order to get closer to the most high. The church’s motto is “Christ is on high”.
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,” according to their website.
“We do not believe in authoritarian structures, nor do we profess the arrogance of knowing God’s mind,” Elevationist Lee Molloy told 18 Karat Reggae. “There are no Grand Poobah’s or High Priests ― well, we are all ‘high’ priests ― rather, we are all on our own quest to be the best self we can be, and to give back to the community with our talents and labor.”
Church members refer to cannabis as “the sacred flower,” which Molloy described as “a gift from the Universal Creative Force.”
While the members do not refer to God as JAH nor do they see Emperor Haile Selassie I as a deity, they are using the marijuana in the same manner that Rastas have used it for decades.
Despite what many think, Rastas actually condemn the use of marijuana simply to get high. Instead, it is usually used within religious ceremonies in a highly ritualised manner in order to enhance feelings of unity and help generate visions of a spiritual and soothing nature. Rastafari “reasoning sessions” are religious meetings that involve group meditation, and marijuana is used to help the follower go into a trance-like state. The marijuana is usually smoked in a pipe (or “chalice”) and a short prayer is always recited before it is smoked.
As Molloy puts it: “When we ritually take cannabis our mind is elevated and we become a better version of self.”