David Hoppe

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:: Bless Bill Levin

by David Hoppe

Blessings on Bill Levin…or something like that.

Levin, it appears, is on his way to a date with, not a higher power, but the Powers That Be, in the form of the Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, and Rick Hite, the Indianapolis Police Chief.

Levin, as you certainly know by now, is founder of the First Church of Cannabis. Marijuana is the church’s sacrament, and Levin says churchgoers will be invited to light up as part of the church’s service.

Enter the Powers That Be, determined to make sure that pot remains out-of-bounds in their jurisdiction.

Prosecutor Curry has openly bellyached that the hubbub Levin has created is wasting his office’s valuable time and resources. Chief Hite unexpectedly conjured a version of the city’s underworld sounding like equal parts Guys and Dolls and Oliver when he told the Star the city’s drug dealers have been “appalled” by what the church is doing.  He went on to say: "Those who deal drugs for a living have said to us, 'Listen. We're trying to get out of the game. You're telling us to get out, Chief.' How can we allow someone to willingly violate the law?"

Gee whiz, Chief, it’s called civil disobedience.

Curry says this is what comes of the legislature passing that consarned RFRA, a law intended to keep government’s supposedly heavy hand out of peoples’ religious practice. He wants RFRA repealed — yesterday wouldn’t be soon enough — so that people like Bill Levin can’t use it as a pretext to make the kind of mischief that’s now entangling the prosecutor’s office.

But this isn’t really about the RFRA. It’s about one of Bill Levin’s favorite things: pot.

Levin has been stumping for what he calls pot’s “relegalization” for years. He recognizes what the County Prosecutor and the Chief of Police are bound by their job descriptions to miss — that Indiana’s pot prohibition isn’t just absurd, it’s a waste.

The waste relates to the fact that states surrounding us have, in one way or another, begun the process of reforming their marijuana laws. That Indiana grown pot accounts for a large share of this state’s underground economy has been an open secret for years. What folks like Levin are asking is why not make the most of this asset?

Unfortunately for us, that’s a conversation our one-party legislature is no better able to deal with than it was gay marriage.

So we’re left with the absurd part. That’s Bill Levin’s forte. I’ve had occasion to write about Bill over the years and it’s interesting: he called for a parking garage where the old Marathon station in Broad Ripple used to be; it’s there now. He thought a low-voltage FM station would be good idea for the Village; something similar is part of Big Car’s new vision for Garfield Park.

Bill’s a trickster who sometimes sees where people are headed before they see it themselves. If Curry and Hite are to be believed, this means Bill will soon be headed for jail, busted for doing publicly what countless Hoosiers do every day in private. That’s absurd. Bless Bill for helping us see it.