Bill Levin: Taking the First Church of Cannabis Worldwide

Bill Levin: First Church of Cannabis

Bill Levin is a man on a mission.  He’s touting love, understanding, and compassion for all.  The vehicle for this message?  The First Church of Cannabis in Indiana.  Inspired by Gov. Mike Pence’s support of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Bill felt compelled to do some soul-searching on how the legislation could affect the bigger picture for people in his state.  He never imagined the impact his decision would have in just over 100 days…locally and globally!  With Cannabis as its sacrament, the Church’s major tenets are Live-Love-Laugh-Learn-Create-Grow-Teach, and people around the world are embracing them.  We had the pleasure of talking with Bill within an hour after the Church’s first service on July 1.

Can you tell us about your current work in the space?

Well, once everyone kind of knew the RFRA was going to pass, I had a little talk with God.  I said, “Hey, God, if you had one message to give to the people of Earth, what would it be?”  I came up with the Deity Dozen (sort of the First Church of Cannabis’ version of the Ten Commandments).  I posted them on my Facebook page the morning of March 27.  By noon I had so many responses that I started a separate page for the Church. By 3:00pm, I had to go start a GoFundMe campaign because with almost every post or message, people asked where to donate.  It’s grown every day since then.

The Facebook page went viral.  We’ve been translated to 27 different languages in less than 30 days—including Eigbo, the language of southwestern Nigeria!  Who knew?!  And we are huge in Brazil.  Love conquers all…and we are worldwide!

Love conquers all…and we are worldwide

The RFRA was enacted today, 7/1/15, at noon.  We had our first service at the First Church of Cannabis at 12:01.  We don’t adhere to any one religion.  We teach that anyone can be a Cannaterian, as we don’t define the superior being that provides the wonder herb Cannabis.  We’re just all about love.

We’ve had one miracle after another.  Everyone knows how difficult it is to get approved as a 501 C3/non-profit; the average response is NO after 180 days.  We were literally approved in 27 days.  Signed, sealed, delivered.

We couldn’t find a church.  One of my buddies sends me pictures of churches, one right after another.  One of them says, “For Sale by Owner”.  We showed up the next morning at 7:00 to cut a deal.  And we got it. There has been a divine hand in all of this.

Of course, we don’t sell, buy, grow, or distribute Cannabis.

When was your interest first piqued by the cannabis plant?

I discovered the beauty of the plant in 1968.  I then started questioning why everyone was calling it bad.  I was reading every progressive magazine or other material I could.  I just followed the plant.

What were you doing before becoming a part of this industry?

I also have a Political Action Committee/PAC—Relegalize Indiana.  I’ve been on the Board of Directors for NORML.  I’ve done the rounds, been politically active since the late 90s.  I’ve run for office at the local and state level; I lost but I had fun doin’ it.

What’s the most touching story you’ve heard from someone you’ve encountered in your work?

A good friend of mine recently passed on.  He had cancer and was successfully treating it with Cannabis oil and a healthy diet.  But, we live in a state where these things are not easily acquired.  He got off the medicine, not by choice, of course.  His issues came back, much worse than before.  We couldn’t get the medicine in time to save him, and we lost him this last summer.  It just about killed me.  Sugar feeds cancer, of course, and when he was hospitalized, they started pumping him full of glucose water…and we just watched the cancer grow.  We did fundraisers, everything we could do.  Bottom line, we didn’t have the Cannabis medicine to keep him alive and well.

His name was Otto.  And now in the Church, one of our practices is the Otto Prayer.  At 11:11 every morning and every evening, we partake of the plant and pray for patients.

What do you wish people would know about the cannabis plant?

People need to know that it is a health supplement that we are hard-wired to accept.  Our endo-cannabinoid system means we are built to accept the nutrients of the Cannabis plant.  If we don’t get it, we fall out of health.

Our endo-cannabinoid system means we are built to accept the nutrients of the Cannabis plant.  If we don’t get it, we fall out of health.

If you take a look at someone who is really in bad health, I guarantee their endo-cannabinol system is out of whack!  If someone’s endo-cannabinol system is in sync, they’re probably pretty healthy!

What words do you live by? Is it a quote? A mantra?

I love you!  That’s my quote.  It’s my favorite saying.  They are the words that flow easiest out of my mouth.  My job in this world is to fill your heart with love.

I love you!  That’s my quote.  It’s my favorite saying.  They are the words that flow easiest out of my mouth.  My job in this world is to fill your heart with love.

YOU—no matter who you are.  When your heart is filled with love, you will smile so big that your cheeks will hurt and you’ll feel like you just ingested three hits of sunshine!

What part would you like to play in moving this industry in a positive direction?

We are going to charter the church.  Yup, we’re gonna be bigger than Starbucks.  We’ve had people in multiple countries call and write, asking how to get a charter and how to start a church.  Believe me, if we can get the First Church of Cannabis up and running and legal in Indiana, we can get it established anywhere!  Indiana is one of the least friendly states for Cannabis.  We still have a lot of legalities to deal with.  But we are getting there…and faster than I ever imagined.

What trait does one need to do great work in this space?

A good hug.  A great smile.  Love in your heart.  With those three things, you can do anything in the world.  If someone had asked me 4 months ago if I’d be the head of the fastest growing “religion” in the world, I’d have said, Noooo, I don’t think so!  But today, here I sit in my own church, with thousands of people who seem to get it.  You can knock me over with a feather right now.  I’m just as surprised as everybody else.

What is your message to the CannaEffect community?

Stick to your guns.  Believe in what you do.  Take no shit!  You can’t play small when you’re out to make the world a better place.