The Grand Poobah of Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis has announced that he is running for Governor. Bill Levin, the 63-year-old creator and leader of the state’s first and only cannabis-based church, will be seeking the Libertarian spot in the gubernatorial election, which will take place next year. After announcing his candidacy via Facebook last week, Bill Levin plans on bringing some big ideas to the race over the next year.
Who is Bill Levin?
“I’ve been an advocate, had a home remodeling business, was a band manager, worked in music,” Levin said of his career. Since 2015, he has also been the “Grand Poobah” of his church, which he founded out of his love for cannabis. Levin has previously found himself in the news not only for his church, but for his attempts to use religious freedom laws in his state as a way to use cannabis, campaigns for other government roles that have been unsuccessful, and a peacock named Bert.
Not a quiet figure in the state, or in life, Levin says that he’s never been afraid to cause some trouble. “I got kicked out of school when I was about 13, so my parents sent me to boarding school in Maine,” Levin said. “Where for the next eight months or so I tried very hard to get kicked out of every day.”
Levin, who ended up coming back to Indiana by his late teens and becoming class president because he “put LSD in the coffee pot at school,” has stayed in Indiana ever since. Now, he says he’s running because he has “always rooted for the underdog” and feels that the Hoosiers in his state are being unfairly treated by their government.
What Does He Want To Do?
Although he is a large cannabis advocate, Levin says his motivations aren’t for business or financial gains. In fact, it’s the opposite. “We need to take the corruption and greed out of Indiana, because there is a lot,” Levin said with an intensity in his voice.
“Cannabis should be free and legal for anyone. We don’t need to try and monetize a plant, that’s just greed. Other than for health reasons, cannabis should be not be touched by the government at all.”
In office, Levin says he would only make sure that the cannabis being produced is safe and healthy for people, but that he’d leave any other regulation off the table. Despite the conservative state still not having any form of legal cannabis, Levin pointed to a 2016 poll showing 73 percent of Hoosiers support some form of legal weed and his own experiences as indicators that it’s time for the state to change its tune. “Police in this state are sick of having to deal with weed,” Levin said. “But their bosses won’t let them say anything. Now they barely touch anything under five pounds.” Levin also points to his own interactions with police, many of whom he says have told him in private that dealing with cannabis is a waste of time.
More Than Just Cannabis
However, while his name recognition may be from cannabis, he has big plans for his state outside of its plants. Levin says he wants “a complete overhaul of the Indiana school system” which he says is not properly preparing today’s youth for the real world.
“Why are we spending years on algebra when we should be teaching our kids real-life skills that they’ll need to survive,” Levin said. “How many times have you used algebra in your life?” Pointing to newer phone technology, Levin says that schools need to be updated to help excite kids about the future and their studies.
Bringing The State Back To The People
“Corporations own and run this state,” Levin said. “I want to make sure that we get rid of it entirely from our state and government. I mean, look at our environment and the pollution that we are causing.” Indiana is one of the most polluted states in the nation which Levin attributes to loopholes or bribes that allow corporations to do as they please and leave the state with the clean-up.
“Our state is being poisoned by corporations who think they can just pay their way through anything and anyone,” Levin said with anger growing in his voice. “Sorry, when I get into office, that isn’t going to happen anymore.” He also wants to change building codes in the state to allow hemp and “hempcrete” to be used for buildings in the state, which Levin says he wants to use to build the states first “hemple” or “hemp temple.” One of his other main areas that’d Levin would like to tackle is the homeless problem in the state.
“The Governor of Indiana lives in this huge opulent mansion and if there’s one thing I don’t like very much it’s opulence,” Levin said. “I’ve found that I got much happier when I stopped caring about money and now only live with as much as I need to survive, so when I win, I’ll stay in my house, but I want to convert the mansion into the states first resource center for the homeless, which we desperately need.”
Levin also says that he would donate about 80 percent of the six-figure salary that would come with the job to homeless efforts in the state. Regardless of his positions, Levin said that ultimately he wants people to know one thing. “There are three powerful words that we don’t say enough,” Levin added sincerely. “People don’t use the words ”I love you” enough. The world is so dark and hateful, but those three words really do have power.”