Fresh off their tax-exempt status victory, the First Church of Cannabis is already back in the news, however this time it's for all the wrong reasons.
Sandy Springs, GA, law enforcement officials have charged Wesley Alan Johnson, 38, with trafficking marijuana, distribution of marijuana, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Johnson is a self-proclaimed member of the First Church of Cannabis, which just attained nonprofit status and plans to hold its first official service in July.
According to church founder Bill Levin, the First Church of Cannabis was founded "to start a church based on love and understanding with compassion for all." The church is also based on the ideal that marijuana is a healing plant.
Sandy Springs police became aware of Johnson after they got a tip from another law enforcement agency that he was involved in marijuana trafficking. When the Sandy Springs PD conducted a background search of Johnson, they found an abundance of marijuana references throughout his social media posts, including his involvement in the First Church of Cannabis.
Last week, officers along with K-9 units conducted a search of Johnson's home. Before even entering the premises, officers noted a "strong, pungent odor of fresh marijuana." Initially Johnson told police that he had just finished smoking a bowl, and only had about a quarter-ounce of bud in his home. However once inside police found a whole lot more than that. Officers found packaged marijuana throughout the home, as well as a grow operation.
In all, Sandy Springs police seized 72 marijuana plants, 6.5 pounds of trimmed and dried bud, over $25,000 in cash, and a hand gun.
Johnson allegedly told officers the marijuana he was growing was “Sour Diesel,” and that “he believed he was doing ‘God’s work’ by selling the marijuana,” according to the police report.
Sandy Springs police are also looking at possibly charging Johnson with distribution of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, as the home is in close proximity to Sandy Springs Public Library, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church, and Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School.