International Church of Cannabis Founder Found Guilty and Fined $50 after Four Days Trial

7 months ago

Nobody who followed the case of the International Church of Cannabis in Denver, Colorado, will be surprised to hear that Steve Berke, one of the church’s founders, has been found guilty of open and public consumption of marijuana and violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.


The Church which brands itself as a members only religious organization aims help people discover the best version of themselves by way of the sacred plant.

Through ritual, guided by spiritual practice, church members use the sacred flower to reveal the best version of self, discover a creative voice and enrich their community with the fruits of that creativity.

Members, called Elevationists, require no converting to Elevationistm, nor does the church claim any divine law, doctrine or authoritarian structure. They believe that ritual cannabis use can accelerate the individual spiritual journey, the search for meaning and self-discovery.

The members believe it is their right to partake their sacrament together [the sacred plant] and should not be thought of as criminals for honoring their religious traditions.

The church is open for public visits and boosts several tens of reviews on Yelp.

The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.
— Carl Sagan

On April 20, 2017, the official opening of the church, an undercover agent entered the church for its invite-only event, without in fact being invited. This allowed prosecutors to argue that the event was in fact a public, rather than a private one, and that the marijuana consumed during the Church’s opening was used “openly and publicly”.

Berke, and his two co-founders, Lee Molloy and Briley Hale, were cited.

After two long years, including a mistrial in 2018, the municipal trial finally took place last week and lasted 4 days.

Steven Berke was eventually found guilty of both charges, public marijuana consumption and violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act last week. He was fined $50 (fifty) and $21 in court costs.


Berke’s co-founders are due in court on February 12.

“I don’t know how the city attorneys can claim victory because they spent tens of thousands of dollars and they’ve now collected a $50 fine.”
“I don’t know if taxpayers are furious about this, but I’m a taxpayer, and I would be furious if I knew that the city attorney spent four days trying somebody for a maximum $100 fine.”
Steve Berke, founder International Church of Cannabis Denver, Colorado

Berke said he is considering appealing. Judge Johnny C. Barajas said after the verdict that in his 20 years spanning career he had never seen a municipal trial last 4 days.

Next time you wonder where your tax dollars go... you now know the answer.

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What a massive waste of time and tax payers money! Self mockery at it's finest. The cost of expenditure to returns is exactly like most of my crypto investments(except smoke actually) :D


The mockery will be complete when they appeal.

Here’s hoping your crypto ROI is better than theirs though because if not... that wouldn’t be a bearmarket but more like a comet hitting your house.


I have confidence in the space. Still in a price discovery phase so these volatile cycles are expected. The DOJ on the other hand I have no hopes. They'll scam a few more to innocent folks to recover their "losses".

Ok, so let me see if I got this right. He was investigated, had a trial and even was observed by an undercover cop since 2017, right? So that they can fine him 50-70 dollars for smoking cannabis. Basically a fine they give adults for drinking in a park.
Hey, America look up. You see those things flying in the sky? Yeah I think thats your tax dollars flying away. I dont know If I should laugh at this or just do a head shaking at how stupid this sounds to an outsider. Correct me if I am wrong. I am from the Balkans so I understand that feel when your tax dollars get used in dumb sh*t.


Yeah that’s pretty much it. The whole summary so far would be:

  • 8 cops at the opening (8 witnessed during trial), at least one as undercover
  • 1x mistrial (2018)
  • 1x 4 day long trial (2019)
  • 1x trial to come for both other co-founders (Feb. 12)

Total earnings so far (fine + court costs): $71.
Bonus: if he appeals the judgment it can all get more expensive even.


Holy molly. Thats one broken system.

Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act

Funny how they just applied this act to cannabis too when it is meant for tabacco and there is most likely very little evidence second-hand cannabis smoke is harmful.

Berke and the boys should join roach Sunday. Get this officially sanctioned by the Church and we one step closer to Tax free smoking :')


Tax free smoking. Could we place the HQ of an e-comm platform behind the altar then and, well it’s the sacrament so can’t charge VAT on that, right?


I believe so.. As much as @technosgirl is against creating a cult, it may have great implications for Smoke users.. As smoke earned through the worship of a sacrament might lie in some grey areas as well.. Smoke can be the digital representation of our 'God' and upsmokes a way to achieve enlightenment. :'D


So, respecting the trail blazing done by Cannada, we could call ourselves the Cannafarians.

No converting needed either, only proof-of-merry required.


In South Africa we call ourselves "Daggafarians" : (watch out for the popups if you open this link)

The word "Dagga" often is used in a negative connotation but we taking it back.


People smoke with tobacco, plus there's blunt wraps which are bad, but you're right it's a bit rubbish. It applies to vapes too though, those don't have second hand smoke


hmm... Interesting on the vaping part. In SA vaping laws are pretty up in the air still, though most people are considerate enough to only vape where cigarette smoking is allowed. . . And cannabis is not allowed to be smoked anywhere except in your own home (Or a private residence that has specifically marked their right to privacy).