The First Church of Cannabis held its inaugural service on Wednesday. First Church of Cannabis

Weed and worship don’t normally go together, but that changed on Wednesday, when the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis held its inaugural service. Founded in March of this year, the church’s members call themselves Cannaterians -- and they want to legalize marijuana as a religious right.

The journey of the reefer faithful began when Indiana signed into law its Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March, a measure that purportedly aims to prevent the government from “substantially burdening” a citizen’s right to practice his or her religion. Critics said the law was just a way to allow religious businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Bill Levin, who calls himself the “Grand Poobah” of the church, decided to put the law to the test. If the RFRA protects religious practices, then it should also protect the use of marijuana -- which is illegal in Indiana -- as a way to reach a higher plane of spiritual existence. (The church’s website describes it as a religious sacrament.) Levin, who has worked a variety of jobs and even served as a Libertarian candidate for political office, launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds and established the church’s nonprofit status as a religious institution in March.

On Wednesday, the same day the RFRA went into effect as law, some 100 congregants gathered to sing hymns and celebrate their new faith. The first song? “Amazing Grace,” followed by “Mary Jane.”

“We will celebrate life’s great adventures,” Levin said before the service started. “This is not just smoking pot and getting high. It’s about the birth of a new religion. I’m a smile harvester.”

The rest of the service was as nontraditional as you can get -- complete with testimonials on why cannabis should be legalized and the recitation of the “Deity Dozen,” described the IndyStar as “a sort of stoners’ version of the Ten Commandments.”

Notably absent? Any marijuana. State officials announced last week that anyone in smoking the illegal drug at the service would face criminal charges. A heavy police presence accompanied the event. Levin said the church had decided to fight the battle in civil court instead of with criminal proceedings.

"I'm not a criminal," Levin said. "I'm a religious figure."