“Breathe deep and blow harder,” intoned Pastor Grant Atwell after distributing small marijuana joints to 20 worshipers on a recent Sunday afternoon. “Nail the insight down, whether you get it from marijuana or prayer. Consider what in your own life you are thankful for.”
A middle-aged man wearing a “Jesus Loves You” baseball cap piped up. “Thank you, God, for the weed,” he called out. “I’m thankful for the spirit of cannabis,” a woman echoed from the back. “I am grateful to be alive,” said another young woman, adding that she had recently overdosed — on what, she did not say — for the third time.
The small room, painted black and gold and decorated with crosses and Rastafarian symbols, filled with pungent smoke after an hour-long service of Christian prayers, self-help slogans and inspirational quotes led by Atwell, a Campbell, Calif., massage therapist and photographer.