4/20 celebration at the International Church of Cannabis

Blissing Out at the Church of Cannabis

A sanctuary in Colorado has opened its doors to a 4/20-friendly congregation.

A few years ago, Steve Berke was living in an 113-year-old church in Denver that his parents owned when he got a crazy idea. Along with friends Lee Molloy and Briley Hale, Burke hatched a plan to transform the church into a safe-haven for pot smokers looking to raise their spiritual awareness. On April 20, 2017, the International Church of Cannabis opened its doors.

HIGHER CALLING Marc Piscotty/Getty Images HIGHER CALLING The newly renovated chapel is now the headquarters for Elevation Ministries, a nonprofit religious organization whose members, known as Elevationists, believe cannabis can help guide them on their path to self-discovery. The church says it has over 5,000 members who use the "sacred flower" to elevate their spiritual practice, no matter their chosen theology. HOLY SMOKE Marc Piscotty/Getty Images HOLY SMOKE Some may balk at the idea of a church whose main sacrament is lighting up, but using cannabis to reach an altered state of consciousness has historical precedence — from ancient Taoists to today's Rastafarians. HIGH HOPES Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images HIGH HOPES Expanding on what it means to be an Elevationist, co-founder Lee Molloy told The Guardian, “We believe there is no one-path solution to life’s big questions. This is simply a supportive place for each one of us to find a pathway to our own spirituality, whatever that may be.” HEAVENLY VISIONS Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images HEAVENLY VISIONS Beliefs aside, most can agree that the church's awe-inspiring artwork is truly something to behold. Okuda San Miguel, a Spanish artist, filled every wall with mythological creatures made of brilliant patterns and geometric shapes. PEACE PIPE Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images PEACE PIPE At the beginning of each Friday night service, members are encouraged to light up and get to know each other. Following the passing of a few joints, the congregation enjoys an inspirational, non-denominational sermon while they sit back and take in the grand art surrounding them. HOLY ROLLERS ONLY Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images HOLY ROLLERS ONLY Due to current pot laws in Colorado, the church's cannabis services are not open to the public, but non-members are still allowed inside to view the murals. BUZZKILL Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images BUZZKILL The church isn't without its woes. City officials in Denver have expressed concerns over the legality of such an institution and have accused the founders of trying to skirt local consumption laws. During their inaugural 4/20 event, undercover police officers entered the event and later issued the three founders citations for public consumption. The case ultimately ended in a mistrial. TRAIL BLAZING Marc Piscotty/Getty Images TRAIL BLAZING This April 20th, the church will celebrate its first anniversary with Grammy-winner Melissa Etheridge hosting a community conversation about legalizing marijuana nationwide.