Rolled Cannabis

How Cannabis and Religion Mix in California

The past several years have seen a remarkable surge in support for the legalization of cannabis throughout North America, with Canada having legalized the drug for recreational use, several US states doing the same, and legalization being considered in Mexico. Coinciding with the gradual process of legalization sweeping the continent, cultural attitudes surrounding marijuana have adapted, as a growing number of people support legalization and believe the drug’s harmful impact is minimal. As people have grown more comfortable with openly using marijuana in states where it is legal, cultures in these communities have integrated the drug into social events. A so-called cannabis cafe, where customers can openly purchase and smoke marijuana while enjoying a meal, recently opened in California with the support of celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman. Perhaps more surprisingly, though, cannabis has begun to be integrated with church services in California, creating a unique intersection between the psychoactive drug and religious service. 

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In Big Bear, California, roughly two dozen people regularly attend Jah Healing Church services, where joints are passed around as practitioners worship. One of the church’s founders, April Mancini, has said that she was inspired to combine the drug with religious practice after meeting a Rastafarian who ran the building as an unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary in 2013. While she was initially skeptical of the drug’s religious value, Mancini later studied the Bible for references to the drug, and believes that she found them. While Jah Healing Church generally follows the Christian tradition, it also incorporates teachings from other religions like Rastafarianism, Buddhism, and Judaism. In addition to holding services that include the consumption of marijuana, the church has begun a food pantry and clothing drives.

In order to continue operating, cannabis churches will have to prove in court that marijuana is used as a genuine religious sacrament, a feat which will undoubtedly prove difficult.

Several cannabis churches exist throughout the state, and their existence has led to legal challenges concerning how the government should treat these unique institutions. The controversy stems from the fact that people at these churches do not pay for marijuana directly, but instate donate money to the church in exchange for the drug. Some churches offer paid membership plans, and while they do not advertise themselves as marijuana dispensaries, they often appear on lists of dispensaries online. As such, these churches circumvent state regulations concerning the sale of marijuana, which requires dispensaries to register with the state for a license in order to sell the drug legally. According to a cannabis trade organization, nearly 3,000 unlicensed marijuana dispensaries exist in California, meaning that even though the drug is legal, the way in which it is often sold is technically illegal. The marijuana black market continues to thrive and even surpass the legal market in size and scale, and cannabis churches are widely considered to be part of this illegal market.

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California government officials have a perspective on cannabis churches that differs wildly from the view held by people associated with these institutions. Whereas church organizers view them as primarily centered around religious service, enhanced by cannabis use, officials like deputy city attorney for Redondo Beach Melanie Chavira see them just as dispensaries under a different name. Speaking with the New York Times, Chavira said of these churches, “it’s not donation based, the customers are not religious patrons, everyone’s just there to purchase marijuana.” As such, law enforcement throughout the state has taken various steps to shut down these churches, generating legal battles currently being fought in the courts. One central figure in this story is Matthew Pappas, a lawyer who has fought on behalf of marijuana use for years. Pappas argues that the religious conviction held by cannabis church attendees is genuine, and that the government has an obligation to protect the rights of people who incorporate cannabis use into their religious practice. Mr. Pappas is also a religious figure himself, as he started an organization called Sacramental Life Church, which works with several cannabis churches in the state including Jah Healing Church. In order to continue operating, however, cannabis churches will have to prove in court that marijuana is used as a genuine religious sacrament, a feat which will undoubtedly prove difficult.

The Dresden Castle

Priceless Treasures Stolen In German Castle Vault Heist

The Green Vault is the Dresden Castle in Germany has become synonymously known as “Europe’s Treasure Chest” as it houses one of the largest collections of treasures in all of Europe. However, this week, several robbers have stolen over 100 pieces of “priceless” jewels and treasures from the establishment. 

According to Roland Woeller, a local politician, and State Police who spoke with several news sources Monday morning after it was discovered the castle had been robbed, several thieves broke into the vault early in the morning, around 4:50 a.m to be specific. Police announced that two thieves were visibly seen on security cameras after the attack, however, it’s being assumed that many more were involved in the robbery.

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“[We] received a call at 4.59 a.m. on Monday, saying that a break-in was taking place “Two suspects were seen on CCTV. After cutting through a grille and breaking a window, the suspects came in … walked towards a glass vitrine, smashed it and left, they disappeared,” Dresden police Chief Criminal Director Volkertold told reporters at a press conference.

“This is an attack on the cultural identity of all Saxons and the state of Saxony,” Woeller added

Police also discussed how a nearby electrical fire was occurring at the same time as the robbery, and they are currently investigating if those two incidents were connected to one another as the fire caused several street lights in the surrounding area to go out during the time of the crime. However, it’s unconfirmed as to if these two events had anything to do with one another, and Police aren’t unconvinced that it was just an unrelated technical issue, since it affected a larger area than just around the castle. 

There’s no concrete value of how much was stolen, because most of the items in the Green Vault hold “incalculable” value. Pieces of fine diamonds, rubies, and pearls were taken along with treasured pieces of crystal bowls and other fine dining ware made from high end jewels and stones, according to police. However, the estimated current value of stolen goods well exceeds the billion range. 

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The Director of Dresden’s State Art Collection, Marion Ackermann, also spoke to the press and stated that her hope, along with the police, is that there is no black market for the stolen pieces due to their popularity. Their hopes are that since the Green Vault is such a well-known exhibit, and their treasures are so well-known due to their exquisite nature, there will be no way to sell since everyone recognizes the items taken. 

The Museum itself is remaining closed for the remainder of the day to perform an extensive investigation of the property. According to Ackermann, the castle is under 24 hour surveillance which includes live security personnel monitoring the castle, so police are first looking into an insider job approach with the investigation, and working from there. It would take a real expert on the castle’s inner workings and location of all the real valuable goods, which were stolen, to successfully pull of a robbery of this degree; think Ocean’s 12, but real life.

The Green Vault was first established in the early 18th Century by Augustus the Strong, the ruler of Saxony at the time. His main goal during his leadership was to turn Dresden into one of the biggest centers for the arts and culture in general. 

He worked to establish Dresden as a major center for the arts, inviting talented sculptors, goldsmiths and painters to take up residence and commissioned a series of magnificent rooms to showcase his valuables as a way of advertising the city’s cultural prominence in addition to its wealth,” (CNN).


California’s Marijuana Black Market Thriving More Than It’s Legal One

Marijuana has been fully legal in the state of California for almost two years, and yet the black-market for it is still thriving more than the actual legal market. According to an analysis completed by California cannabis sellers, illegal sellers outnumber legal marijuana retailers three to one! The biggest culprit is the internet, there’s a vast online marketplace and many websites that actually list off different locations and individuals you can buy marijuana from, legally or illegally. 

One of the biggest online resources being used in the state is a website known as Weedmaps, which the government is determined to shut down, along with any other website that holds a similar function. California cannabis regulators sent out a state-wide warning this week to websites like and including Weedmaps, stating that the inherit function of their website is illegal, and if it continues to stay active, heavy legal fines will be administered.

The United Cannabis Business Association, a statewide group of legal marijuana businesses, found that “about 2,835 illicit sellers, including storefronts and delivery services, are operating statewide. That’s more than three times as many illegal sellers as legal ones — 873,” according to their website

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“We’re the only state to go recreational and see a year-over-year reduction in legal sales,” UCBA president Jerred Kiloh said in an interview with NBC News. These results were shocking, frankly, to the legal marijuana distributors in the state. California is the world’s largest legal cannabis market, so when the herb actually did become fully legal (medically and recreationally for individuals 21 and over), the economy was expected to thrive, however, they didn’t account for illegal sellers to begin advertising as legal distributors. These store fronts are mainly popping up in Los Angeles and San Diego, most likely due to the large size of both cities and more relaxed enforcement of checking the legality of store fronts. 

The UCBA is targeting Weedmaps as their first major legal counter attack, the website is international, however, making it more difficult to shut down. The website itself lists all the marijuana retail distributors in a given place and since it’s international, the site doesn’t check if every store listed is state approved or not. In 2018, the state of California sent the website a cease-and-desist letter claiming that Weedmaps was “aiding and abetting in violations of state cannabis laws.” 

The site is potentially liable to pay $30,000 a day, which warranted a response from the websites CEO, who promised that every illegally advertised retailer will be removed from the site by the end of the year. Legal retailers aren’t satisfied with the slow pace, and have stated that Weedmaps shouldn’t have a say in “when they decide to stop breaking the law” which ignited a retaliation in Chris Beales, Weedmaps CEO. Beales claims that his website isn’t the reason behind why the California black market is thriving more than the legal market. He claims it’s due to a lack in supply, therefore, there’s a lack of demand. 

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“No other recreational marijuana state has seen the black-market issues. This is really superficial. The real underlying problem is that there’s insufficient licenses address market demand. When California voters made recreational marijuana usage legal, they gave cities leeway to outlaw sales or limit them locally as they saw fit,” Beales stated in a claim to NBC News.

The California law basically states that local governments can restrict and regulate marijuana sales as strictly as they want, which has lead to a massive decline in actual retail locations for recreational marijuana. In fact, less than 25% of the state actually allows the legal sale of it. In addition, these legal locations are charging nearly 25% in taxes for every purchase, because the law enforces state and local tax to be added on. The strict regulations within the State make it as if marijuana isn’t even legal outside of San Diego and LA. 

Law enforcement has cracked down even more on the shutting down of illegal dispensaries that aren’t properly licenced, and this year alone have shut down over 1,000 locations in Los Angeles alone. The crackdowns and removal may not be ideal for recreational users who aren’t a fan of the expensive tax and distant travels they may have to do to get to a legal dispensary, but unfortunately has become one of the top concerns for crime investigators in the state.