The Spirits Are High In This Denver Church

Historic churches are beautiful buildings and many of them are preserved, renovated and transformed for new functions. A 113-year old church in Denver, Colorado, recently reopened after a renovation and is attracting a completely new crowd, while retaining its religious purpose.

The church is the new home and place of worship for the Elevation Ministries of the International Church of Cannabis (ICOC), better known as the Church of Cannabis. It is a recognized, not-for-profit religious movement that believes in the creative healing powers of cannabis, and how it can help people in becoming a beter version of themselves. Colorado is one of the American states where the recreational use of cannabis became legal in 2012. A strange situation has been created though, as the consumption of cannabis is illegal in public spaces, and only a handful of places label themselves als being cannabis-friendly. Last year we wrote about the Loopr project, the cannabis-friendly bus that drives in a continuous loop around Denver on weekends for people to enjoy it in a social space.

While the church is struggling with local law, as public access to any events or ceremonies involving cannabis consumption is forbidden and such events must be private, invitation-only functions, it is open to the public from Thursday through Sunday from 1-3pm. Smoking is forbidden then, and you must become a member in order to gain access at other times and enjoy the complete experience. Nevertheless, member or not, visiting the church in sober condition is quite the adventure. The inside of the building is an explosion of vibrant color and spectacle. Murals featuring animals, mythological figures and motives all around create a surreal and hallucinating atmosphere that suits the spiritual quality of this unique institution.

The outside of the building features a graffiti mural by Los Angeles street artist Kenny Scharf, while the inside was painted by artist Okuda San Miguel, know for his Pop Surrealism-style. No matter what you think of the context, the building itself is undeniably a work of art.