Cantheism: The Makings of a Cannabis Religion

in Culture

Long before Chris Conrad ever became a cannabis activist and an expert witness in defense of those on trial for possession, cultivation, or distribution, he was a religious Catholic. He entered the seminary as a young man in search of a spiritual life but grew disillusioned with the church after learning about its history of persecution in the name of God.
“The first time I smoked cannabis,” he told High Times, “I felt more of a religious and spiritual connection than I had gotten out of all that seminary work. The power was there for me right from the beginning and I thought, ‘wow, this is what I’ve been looking for.’”
Upon leaving the seminary, Conrad worked in the anti-Vietnam War and civil rights movements for a number of years, but by 1988 found himself concentrating on cannabis activism. Based in Northern California, he became involved in the fight for Proposition 215 that, in 1996, legalized medical marijuana in the state. He also testified frequently in court. He and his wife, Mikki Norris, worked side by side for many years on marijuana activism, writing, and publishing.
Conrad coined the term Kantheism, which later became Cantheism (alternately spelled Cannatheism), in 1996, believing then that the fight for legalization was further along—and also wondering if he could establish a sacramental cannabis practice to bolster the defense of those on trial for marijuana offenses. Calling upon the history of sacramental cannabis use in parts of the world ranging from ancient Scythia and Thrace, to Egypt, India, and the Middle East, he wrote the Cantheist Creed and adopted the Egyptian hieroglyph for cannabis as a symbol.
But things were then heated on the legal and political fronts, and Conrad was advised that promulgating a cannabis religion would compromise his credibility in court cases in which he …

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Author: Danielle Simone Brand / High Times

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