The Temple for Healing and Meditation opened Oct. 25. A social media account describes them as a "zen Christian temple" and says cannabis is a sacred sacrament for them and their members.
"They used the smoke in marijuana to put themselves in a mindset to pray for penance, which is sacrament," said the facility's attorney, Christian Peirano.
Their cannabis connection has them now answering to the city of Roseville.
"They basically said to cease and desist practicing their religious belief," Peirano said.
The leaders of the facility did not want to be interviewed, so that is what Peirano, who is in Southern California, told FOX40. He was hired after the city of Roseville sent the Temple of Healing and Meditation a letter saying they were selling marijuana in violation of Roseville municipal code.
Peirano says he doesn’t know much about the history of Temple of Healing, but told FOX40 they are a church that recognizes various sacraments, including baptism, marriage and marijuana.
"It’s based on Judeo-Christian values that, you know, when God manifested his presence on earth it was through smoke," Peirano said. "The oil they used to anoint people had cannabis in it."
Whether they are distributing marijuana is not in dispute. FOX40 easily found them on the Weedmaps website, offering a variety of marijuana products and appearing very much like a business with customer reviews and business responses. Peirano says the temple has about 300 members and doesn’t deny his clients charge for marijuana.
"The main focus behind 'selling drugs' is whether or not you're exceedingly doing it for a commercial purpose, in other words, just to make a profit, "Peirano said. "The marijuana in this particular situation is to sustain the church itself."
Which Peirano maintains is protected by international treaty law protecting the free exercise of religion.
However, one person FOX40 spoke with said she didn't go to the temple for religious reasons. We weren’t allowed to film inside, but photographs found on facility’s website seem to line up with what she said.
"You can go in there and just do yoga any time, which is great," she said. "You can go in there and do meditation any time. I would say the medicated side is a minute, minute practice of what they're doing in there, it's mainly for mind and body."
The attorneys for the city and the temple have been trading letters back and forth about the legality of the temple operations. The temple’s last letter from Nov. 3 claims it has stopped all activities relating to marijuana, though their profile still remains active on Weedmaps.
Roseville's statements outline the correspondence between the city and the lawyers for the church:
“The City of Roseville maintains the sale and distribution of marijuana by the Temple of Healing and Meditation are in violation of the Roseville Municipal Code.
There is very clear case law at both the State and Federal level that make clear there is no First Amendment protection for the sale and distribution of marijuana for religious purposes.
The correspondence received from the attorney for Temple of Healing and Meditation incorrectly quotes a prior version of the Roseville Municipal Code that was amended last summer and inapplicable US Treaty law. ”