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International Church of Cannabis.
The church's ceiling and walls are filled with Okuda San Miguel's artwork, Sistine-Chapel-style.

International Church of Cannabis

Field review by the editors.

Denver, Colorado

"This is a Sistine Chapel for a new generation," said Steve Berke, an enthusiastic founding member of the "Elevationists" and their International Church of Cannabis. The church, which opened in 2017 on Cannabis Culture Day (April 20), is a genuine century-old house of worship, sold by its pastor to the Elevationists when it became too large for his dwindling congregation.

International Church of Cannabis.
L.A. street artist Kenny Scharf flew to Denver, painted this in a day, then flew back to L.A.

The Elevationists, in contrast, have a congregation that's growing like a... um, weed.

What sets the Cannabis Church apart from all others (aside from its cannabis-smoking members) is its dazzling artwork, painted by artists Kenny Scharf and Okuda San Miguel.

"It's surreal, existential, visceral," said Steve of the art. "We've had atheists walk into this church and have spiritual experiences." That's actually the point; the Elevationists believe that by smoking their "sacrament" and contemplating the colorful art, church-goers can receive enlightenment (We spotted a couple of artsy cow heads in the ceiling, if that counts).

The presence of all that smoke made us wonder: won't it end up coating the art in exhaled weed gunk, lessening its transformative power? Steve said that the Elevationists were mindful of that, and were looking into outfitting the church with smoke extraction equipment.

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012. Steve said that those who dismiss the church as an excuse to smoke dope seem to forget that its members can smoke dope anywhere in Denver. "It's not your typical church crowd," he admitted, but he added that the Elevationists' emphasis on good works still made the group "very churchy."

Aside from being a place of worship, the Church of Cannabis is also an attraction, with regular smoke-free hours set aside daily so that the public can visit (for a donation fee), and "one of the coolest gift shops you've ever seen," according to Steve. "I predict we will end up becoming one of the top two or three tourist destinations in all of Colorado."

International Church of Cannabis

400 S. Logan St., Denver, CO
South side of the city. I-25 exit 207B (southbound) or 206 (northbound). From the exit, drive north two blocks. Turn right onto Exposition Ave. Drive six blocks. Turn left at the stoplight onto Logan St. Drive three blocks. You'll see the church on the right, at the intersection of Dakota Ave.
F-Su 12-5:50, M-Th 1-1:50 (no smoking during those hours) (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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