DENVER — A judge sided with the co-founder of Denver’s International Church of Cannabis in a ruling issued Friday. Lee Molloy was found not guilty of violating Colorado’s Clean Air Act and public consumption of marijuana.
Molloy was accused of violating the act by allowing members of the church to smoke inside the building on April 20, 2017. That year’s “4/20” was also the church’s opening.
A conviction would have only meant about $300 in fines. Molloy said the lawsuit was a huge waste of time for all involved.
“After two years, I have to say, I’m quite thrilled,” Molloy said.
He said the lawsuit was frivolous.
“The people of Denver already spoke about that. They voted for Cannabis smoking and it seems like the government and the politicians have gone out of their way to make that impossible,” Molloy said.
When the Washington Park West chuch opened, the Denver Police Department sent undercover officers to catch members smoking marijuana — something members openly intended to do.
Denver’s city attorney accused Molloy of a complicity theory to allow public smoking in a public space. However, to violate the law, a judge says the Clean Air Act requires three employees or volunteers be present. The church only had two when police arrived that day, thus resulting in the not-guilty ruling.
“I think it’s been a waste of time for everybody who could be out there doing more with their time for the city and the people of Denver,” Molloy said.
He said the church members practice a religion called Elevationism.
“Elevationism is a religion. We have our own church and we should be allowed to gather there on 4/20, which is a sacred holiday for us,” Molloy said.
The city attorney’s office said it prosecuted Molloy because he was using the church to masquerade as a private space when the city argued that it was truly a public space that was allowing for the illegal public consumption of marijuana.