It’s been said that Moses smoked the burning bush, that the Book of Revelation was written in a drug-induced state, and that most religions began with mystical experiences enhanced by hallucinogens.
These fringe ideas have found a place at some of the 176 medical marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up in Colorado Springs. But there are also a handful of dispensaries that use religious terminology and imagery while claiming no religious affiliation.
Perhaps the most popular religious reference is to the Tree of Life, written of in Genesis. Healing Tree Cooperative, Tree of Life Wellness Center and Tree of Wellness are just some examples.
The tree of life for the centers is cannabis, the plant used to make marijuana.
Melissa Romero, founder of Healing Tree Cooperative, embraces the drug for both medicinal and spiritual reasons.
“I believe in Christ,” she told me. “I believe God grew the plant, and I don’t believe that Satan does any growing because he cannot create.”
“The majority of people need to expand their minds a little bit,” she said. “Cannabis is from the Earth. It is a good thing and creates a lot of healing.
“Medical marijuana is my avenue to show love and help people,” Romero said.
But Joey Stine doesn’t view marijuana as a spiritual drug. And the name of his dispensary business, Natural Mystic Cannabis Caregivers, doesn’t allude to religion.
“I am a big reggae fan,” Stine told me. “I got ‘natural mystic’ from a Bob Marley song. “No part of my thing (is religious),” he said. “We are just trying to help sick people feel better.”
Christianity is not the only faith suggested in dispensary names and advertising.
Garden of the Ganges Wellness Center shows the Hindu goddess Shiva in its ads. Tibetan prayer flags wave in the breeze outside the center.
Any religious significance?
Stuart Sloat, owner of Ganges Wellness Center, said “Ganges” refers to the famous Indian river, where, according to him, cannabis was first grown along its banks 3,400 years ago for medical purposes. The prayer flags are simply decorative.
“Religion is not part of our business,” Sloat told me.
Even so, Sloat waded into religious waters when explaining his choice of Shiva, the destroyer of ignorance who brings about purification and transformation in Hindu tradition.
Shiva transforms a corrupt world and dances atop the “ignorance demon,” Sloat said.
“And here we are, an industry that is drastically reducing the corruption caused by illegal drug trades,” he said, “coupled with stamping out the ignorance that society has following the better part of a century’s propaganda campaign” against marijuana.
The Cannabis Church was supposed to be planted this month in the Springs. Get the latest update on it at my blog, “The Pulpit,” at www.thepulpit.freedomblogging.com.