City News

Dane County Sheriff’s Office orders Rastafarian Church to vacate premises

The owner of the Rastafarian Church’s building, at 555 W. Mifflin St., filed eviction proceedings against the establishment’s owners in June.

The owner of the Rastafarian Church’s building, at 555 W. Mifflin St., filed eviction proceedings against the establishment’s owners in June.

Image By: Dana Brandt

Dane County Sheriff’s Office issued a court order Monday for the Lion of Judah House Rastafari, Madison’s first Rastafarian Church, to vacate the premises of their W. Mifflin location.

The church, set up at 555 W. Mifflin St., opened in April and gained significant attention from the community for its distribution of unique “sacraments” to members of the church: marijuana.

Working around both Federal and state law, owners of the church stated the drug was used as a sacrament like any other religious practice.

The city of Madison was not on board with the church’s practice of distributing cannabis and neither was the owner of the building that housed the church, filing eviction proceedings against the tenants in June.

The church founders, Jesse Schwork and Dyland Bangert appeared in court for the eviction case Oct. 4, according to Channel 3000.

At the hearing earlier in October, the Madison building inspector said the tenants did not obtain necessary permits to operate as a church.

The city issued both a cease and desist notice and an official notice of drug nuisance to Schwork and Bangert when it first opened. Then, in May, the Dane County Narcotics Task Force raided the establishment, leading to subsequent charges of maintaining a drug trafficking place and possession with intent to distribute marijuana for its owners.

The church persisted, reopening in July without the dispensing of marijuana. 

This story will be updated as more information is released.

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