Divine Supply: How A California Church Became A Psychedelics And Weed Sanctuary Challenging Federal Prohibition

Zinger Key Points
  • Dave Hodges' Church of Ambrosia offers banned psychoactive substances as spiritual sacraments, challenging federal law.
  • Legal battles ensue as the church argues to defend its right to use and distribute cannabis and mushrooms among its members.
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Dave Hodges, founder of Zide Door in Oakland and the Church of Ambrosia in San Francisco, is leading a growing movement that challenges traditional boundaries between spiritual freedom, alternative therapies and the use of psychoactive substances. As federal prohibition continues to regulate psychedelics and cannabis, some religious organizations are pioneering innovative pathways for legal and safe access under religious auspices.

Sacred Supply And Its Legal Challenges

Operating under the belief that psychedelic substances are sacraments that facilitate a “direct experience with God,” as Hodges explained to Vice, the Church of Ambrosia actively supplies weed and mushrooms to its members in return for donations. This practice, however, has attracted scrutiny and legal challenges, including a 2020 raid by Oakland police that resulted in the confiscation of $200,000 worth of these substances.

Undeterred by these challenges, Hodges and his followers have responded by pursuing legal recourse, asserting their constitutional and religious rights to use and distribute these substances as part of their spiritual practices.

Spirituality, Sustainability And Community Engagement

Hodges' church has over 100,000 members and seems to be financially sustainable, with an estimated $5 million annual revenue from membership fees and contributions, according to Forbes estimates. Despite lacking IRS tax-exempt status, Hodges emphasizes that the church’s funds go back into legal fees, rent and security.

Moreover, these churches also engage in community-oriented practices. For instance, the well-known Hippie Hill 420 gathering, although officially canceled, was safely held with Hodges’ coordination in cooperation with local nonprofits and businesses. "We see this as a religious event. Anybody who is going out to Hippie Hill on 420 to smoke a joint, they're doing that religiously, whether or not they realize it," Hodges said in a press release from Zide Door.

Broader Movement Toward Acceptance

Hodges' story mirrors the broader societal shift toward accepting the use of entheogenic substances, especially as an alternative approach to traditional mental healthcare. In fact, the Church of Ambrosia isn’t the only psychedelic church blurring the lines between First Amendment freedoms and the regulation of controlled substances. Others, like the Living Church and the Church of Cosmic Consciousness, offer similar sacraments, as reported by the San Francisco Examiner.

Similarly, the Church of the Eagle and the Condor (CEC) in Arizona has navigated the legal landscape to secure the right to use ayahuasca in its religious ceremonies. Despite ayahuasca’s classification as a Schedule I drug, the CEC obtained a religious exemption from the DEA, affirming its right to practice its spirituality without interference from the government. This landmark settlement represents a significant victory for indigenous belief systems.

As legal and cultural battles unfold, the creativity and resilience of these communities continue to challenge and shape the contours of freedom, in a context marked by the rescheduling of cannabis and support of legalization hitting record figures. Join us to explore these transformations at the 19th Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago this Oct. 8-9. Engage with top executives, investors, policymakers, and advocates. Get your tickets now before prices surge by following this link.

Now read: ‘Better Than Football’ Says Ricky Williams As He And Jim McMahon Advocate For Cannabis Reform On CNN

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentPsychedelicsRegulationsAyahuascaCalifornia cannabisChurch of AmbrosiaDMTpsilocybin mushrooms
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