City-County Councillor voices concern over city's response to First Church of Cannabis 

click to enlarge IMPD was present in large numbers at the inaugural service of the FIrst Church of Cannabis. - PHOTO BY ED WENCK
  • IMPD was present in large numbers at the inaugural service of the FIrst Church of Cannabis.
  • Photo by Ed Wenck

Indianapolis City- County Councillor Zach Adamson issued a statement calling into question the actions of the city and specifically the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in their response to the First Church of Cannabis.

The church held their first service Wednesday at noon following the enactment of the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Adamson says the views expressed in his statement are his own and are not meant to reflect the sentiment of the entire council.

Adamson's statement reads as follows:

Yesterday, as Hoosiers watched as several new state laws took effect, one issue of particular local interest has been a bit more high profile in the news. Specifically, The First Church of Cannabis, as they push the limits of the liberties the state says they wanted to protect.

Sadly, more than the reaction of the state, the OVER-reaction by local authorities has been of greater disappointment. Indianapolis residents have watched over the weeks as the media wars on both side of the issue have battled it out on both mainstream and social media.

“I’ve been very troubled by the reaction by our city and the by and large overreaction by our police chief, who actually compared this religious institution’s leader to Jim Jones. That’s a jaw-dropping comparison to a horrific crime and it is an insult to the lives that were lost in that tragedy. It is even more disappointing to see this overreaction using scarce public safety resources during a time of great need in our neighborhoods”, said City-County Councilor Zach Adamson.

Adamson continued, “Many residents have rightfully raised concerns about the city’s inappropriate use of taxpayer resources to fund harassment of this minority religious group. After reading several media reports of selective enforcement of municipal ordinances, the undue installation of police surveillance cameras - at a time when so many of our areas hardest hit by crime don’t have such attention - and the literal recruitment of opposition protesters by the mayors IMPD chief, many fear that Chief Hite’s actions have exposed the City of Indianapolis to expensive and preventable civil liabilities for violations of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, among others.

As our city saw with yesterday morning’s homicide on the near northwest side, we need more officers on the streets and more dollars for neighborhood policing strategies - not unwarranted harassment.”

The Council intends to take all possible actions to give IMPD the necessary tools they need to prioritize enforcement and we hope that we can pull back this encroachment onto the religious freedom of our residents. We call on the public safety agencies to allocate the officers and cameras where our residents have, for years, been begging for them and stop this highly inappropriate use of scarce taxpayer resources. We also call on Chief Hite to issue an immediate apology for the inappropriate invoking of the Jonestown Massacre.

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Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.

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