Legalize Marijuana?

During the Q&A following our service last night the following question was texted in…

Sorry if this is off topic but with it being in the news so often its hard not to notice, with pat robertson endorsing decriminalization of cannabis what should our position as christians on medical cannabis and cannabis in general?

I didn’t take time last night to answer it as I hadn’t heard or read about Pat Robertson’s statements and I wanted to make sure that I understood his position. That said, I do have some thoughts on this issue and having had a chance to look at what Robertson actually said, I figured I’d post an answer here.

The discussion of marijuana legalization is an interesting one, and I’m fairly certain that within a generation it will be legalized in the US. Public opinion on the subject is shifting and the younger demographic (i.e. Millennials) is largely in favor of the move. So, whether or not Christians and the Church agree with the move, we will very likely see a legislative shift within 10-15 years, or sooner.

Add to the discussion Pat Robertson’s remarks from earlier this month. Although they flew under my radar (which isn’t terribly hard to do), Robertson’s views are not new. He’s been advocating this stance for a couple of years, and primarily for pragmatic reasons.

“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance, the whole thing is crazy. We’ve said, ‘Well, we’re conservatives, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney.”

On this point, I basically agree.

Robertson also said, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.” Again, I don’t necessarily disagree on this point either. My primary concern is that many of the politicians I’ve read or heard on this subject have come at it from a totally different angle that concerns me. The reasoning goes something like this, “The war on drugs is costing us billions and is not working, we could legalize and regulate the marijuana industry in such a way that it generates great revenue for the government.” If we’re going to legalize and regulate marijuana solely to make money for the government, then why not prostitution or other controlled substances? Do we really cast aside morals for profit? What precedent does this set and what are the other unintended consequences of doing so with marijuana?

I am not against the lawful use of alcohol as the Bible allows for it’s use; as long as such use is not in excess, which the bible defines as drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18). There is however a lot of unlawful and excessive use in America, which has grave and costly consequences; such as the human cost… This year upwards of 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes – one every 50 minutes. There will be huge economic and human costs associated with marijuana legalization too; many of which will not be realized until after it’s legalization. The questions abound; how do employers deal with marijuana smoking employees? How does the military? Is there a “legal limit” that can be smoked, or how does law enforcement enforce such a DUI charge for Marijuana? etc…

I could certainly go on, but ultimately this begs the question, how should the church respond when such a shift takes place? When it is no longer against the law and is as prevalent as cigarettes and alcohol, what does the church say when Joe Parishioner smokes a bowl in the church parking-lot before each service? I think the answer lies [again] in Ephesians 5:18. Although alcohol is the direct focal point of the verse, [I believe] the principle still stands for any controlled substance. When you come under the influence of said substance and are essential “drunken” you have partaken unto excess. I’ve never smoked marijuana, and do not intend to, but by observation and interaction with people who have, I’m just not sure that you can take a hit of marijuana and not be “under the influence.” Therefore, I believe that it will still be an issue of sinful excess to partake.

The immediate rebuttal or followup question will be, “Is it then sinful to use a controlled substance for medicinal use if it brings you under it’s influence?” I think that this too has a Biblical answer.

Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

– Proverbs 31:6-7

Thoughts/Comments?

 

 

On Pat Robertson’s position

NYT

Washington Post

14 replies
  1. Jared Beck
    Jared Beck says:

    Hot Topic Miles, I’m glad you’ve taken it on. Or should I say “on which you’ve taken it” for those grammar purists. For recreational use, pot always leads to intoxication (to varying degrees, but especially with the current strands being produced), and is therefore dangerous to society and sinful (if we define intoxication as sin, as Ephesians does). For medicinal use it’s a different story. Medicines regularly lead to “intoxication” and thank God too! I sure wouldn’t want anything else for a major surgery. It’s been shown that medicinal marijuana is a cheap, “home-grown” solution to muscle and bone pain, among others, and if treated with the same precautions as using Vicadin (i.e. Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery), it should be acceptable for medicinal use. God created painkillers aren’t any less acceptable than synthetic ones. Ultimately, it’s not what goes into a man’s mouth than makes him unclean, but what comes out.
    I can see what Pat Robertson is saying about penalizing petty crime, but on the other side, do you really want to see advertisements for marijuana in the grocery store and in the corner market? I sure don’t!

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Total agreement on the medicinal use, thus that great verse from Proverbs 🙂

      I’m also in agreement that I’m not looking forward to the ad campaigns that will follow a legalization of marijuana. It won’t be long till all the advertisements during the Super Bowl are Doritos, marijuana, alcohol, Volkswagen and prescription drugs. Maybe someone can do all of those in one ad? 🙂

      Reply
  2. Nancy Allen
    Nancy Allen says:

    Does the church really have anything unique to add to the debate on marijuana?

    I think your questioner’s premise that the church needs to have a position on the legalization of marijuana because Pat Robertson is talking about it is a little off-base. I think that there are a number of TV celebrity preachers who are more focused on getting attention for themselves than they are on sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

    While I do think that there are some serious moral issues that the church should speak out on (and individual churches may differ on just what those issues are), I think the constant drum of “Christian” being tied to particular political platforms is a huge distraction for many people. We are closing people’s minds with politics before they can hear the message of peace and hope.

    Reply
    • Jared Beck
      Jared Beck says:

      RE: Nancy’s question: Yes, by all means, the church should engage the political world both as individuals and collectively! After all, the word “church” is the translation of “ecclesia” and it doesn’t get any more political than that! Now, concerning “branding” Christianity with one particular platform, that’s a whole other story. I think lack of political debate leads more towards that situation than does fluency of political debate.

      Reply
  3. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Miles – legalize medical marijuana and sell it through Kaiser, Walgreens, CVS, like all other prescriptions are, this eliminating the need for cannabis clubs. Continue the criminalization of recreational use.

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Tim,

      While I basically agree with you I don’t think that that’s what will end up happening. Ultimately I think recreational use marijuana will be legalized. But I certainly don’t think it’s going to be good for our society.

      Reply
  4. Nancy Allen
    Nancy Allen says:

    I realized after I wrote my comment that I discussed the question in the abstract and didn’t take sufficient care in considering that there was a person behind the question. If the person who wrote that question is reading here, I apologize that I didn’t choose my words more carefully. Nothing I said was intended to carry any disrespect for you or your concerns.

    Also, Miles, I don’t disagree with anything you said above.

    As to the rest of my earlier comment, in my lifetime I have seen the church dragged down to the point where it became just another voice lost in all the political noise. I see the life-giving message we have to share getting lost in the shuffle and I think we need to avoid letting that happen.

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Nancy,

      You raise a perfectly valid concern. It is a good discussion to have… “has the clarity of the gospel been marred by the political rhetoric coming from the modern American church?” I think it very likely has been.

      Reply
  5. Chris Hendershot
    Chris Hendershot says:

    I think this is a good response to the question Miles. Well done. I will always be for the legalization of MEDICAL cannabis. I have probably done more research on this subject than anyone else in the church. And I am willing to bet there are more people in the church struggling with alcohol and legal prescription abuse than cannabis abuse hands down. Last year I lost an ex girlfriend to alcohol. Drank herself to death literally over years of drinking, what is considered a sacrament in some churches,… wine. Liver failed, she was vomiting up blood and collapsed on her front porch. They said the scene looked like someone was brutally murdered blood everywhere. Its a gruesome reality but alcohol kills people. On the other side, I have seen cannabis given to dyeing cancer patients and it was enough to allow them a little quality of life with there family before they passed. And in a few things I have read it has actually stopped cancer growth. Mind you there was prayer involved in those cases so the Lord had his part in it. Never in recorded history has someone ever died from that plant. Look I know the church is against it, it can be abused, been there done that. But I throw my hands up in utter disappointment that alcohol is legal and cannabis isn’t. The only reason is cuz the government cant find away to make a profit on it yet. Which I hope they never do.

    With that being said, I am currently a medical cannabis patient. Which I recently decided to do after being offered opiates and psyco-active drugs from a doctor. With my history of panic attacks just researching the effects of those drugs gave me a major panic attack where I actually thought I was dying on them. I also have a weak liver. A winter camp I went to I had to be drove home due to becoming super sick and turns out my liver was failing on me… Pills are absolutely no option for me. I have prayed on this issue for years and years. I used to smoke recreationally (id say abuse it) before I came to Christ in HS and after I moved to Hawaii “doing my own thang”. So i went to a different doctor, got my recommendation from him and low and behold I was getting worse panic attacks, I was consuming the wrong kinds… SO I did some research and started breeding my own type.
    I have actually developed a strain through selective breeding that can cure my anxiety and panic, which is actually the oposite effect of the sought after high THC levels. I chose parents low in THC but high in a cannabinoid called CBD or cannabidiol. It is proven to take away pain and anxiety and effects THC to the point where there is absolutely no intoxication being induced. I have had great results. I rarely have to medicate anymore. Panic attacks and fear of judgement have kept me from fellowship. This is one of those things where most people just dont understand what truly is in that plant. I dont hang out with stoners, I dont like the scene it portrays. I am into the scientific and spiritual side of this plant and truly believe it is in Gods Word.

    I will leave it off with this.
    “…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

    Reply
  6. Chad Myhre
    Chad Myhre says:

    Our government has way too many laws. It has become the ultimate control freak. There are literally hundreds of thousands of laws that could go off the books, which would actually be good for our personal freedom, before we would have to consider the legalization of marijuana.

    There is, however, a certain hypocrisy with a government which legalizes alcohol, but doesn’t legalize marijuana. Alcoholism is the most dangerous addiction out there. (I do recognize a huge difference for the Christian though. Alcohol can be enjoyed without addiction or drunkenness, [Biblical guidelines]. Marijuana will always produce some kind of high.) Even if it is legalized, it will not be justifiable for the Christian.

    The legalization of Marijuana will save the government $millions, but I think it’s way down the priority list concerning things which should be legalized.

    Reply
  7. Bill Holdridge
    Bill Holdridge says:

    Legalization of medical marijuana? I’m thinking, “not so much.” Too much opportunity for abuse. I live in Santa Cruz.

    The marijuana of today is a completely different monster than it was when I was 19 (39 years ago). That marijuana was lightweight. Today’s stuff, I’m told, is radical. A stepping stone to other kinds of drugs, no doubt. Do we really want a more addicted culture than we already have?

    If we’re going to have laws against marijuana use, then instead of spending federal bucks trying to cut off the supply, send those monies to the cities and counties to deal with the end user. Arrest them, fine them, put them to work to pay it off, etc. Don’t put them in prison or jail. That’s stupid. Why should taxpayers pay for criminal acts? Make the user pay. Harass the end user hard enough and long enough and the demand goes down. When the demand goes down, the supply shrinks as well.

    I hope Miles is wrong. I hope it never becomes legal, and the holes in so-called medical marijuana are exposed. I remember George McGovern (ran against Richard Nixon in 1972) wanting to legalize pot. I thought it was dark then; I think it’s dark now.

    Reply
    • Chris Hendershot
      Chris Hendershot says:

      Bill,

      “The marijuana of today is a completely different monster than it was when I was 19 (39 years ago). That marijuana was lightweight. Today’s stuff, I’m told, is radical. A stepping stone to other kinds of drugs, no doubt. Do we really want a more addicted culture than we already have?”

      The cannabis today is the same as the cannabis that was created by God. Nothings changed. Same genetic codes. This “different monster” you are claiming is just medicinal quality medicine that has been grown inside lab like conditions using organic methods. Its the environment that expresses the phenotypes inside genotypes.
      The “pot”… [(Lord, I hate that word, just like I hate the word Marijuana)] 39 years ago was most likely from Mexico grown wild, pollinated by male plants, grown with no care or love. Cannabis is a dioecious (male and female) seed bearing plant. The females are pollinated by males creating a seed. Interesting…
      Gen 1:11-12
      11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

      Genesis 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

      Psalms 104:14: He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

      I dont know about you but its pretty clear that cannabis is not evil, its good. Your response likely is “everything changed after the fall”, but thats not good enough proof for me.

      I also believe and so do hundreds of Jewish scholars and rabbis that it is a main ingredient in the Holy Anointing Oil in Exodus 30. The translation fragrant cane or aromatic cane, etc goes back to a hebrew word Kanneh-bosem. Remember in hebrew the “em” is often silent. SO its pronounced kan-eh-bos. Thats pretty clear to me.

      Prohibition of it started because hemp was going to put cotton out of business and it was and always has been and always will be about money. Its not a moral issue at all. Its a greed issue.

      Every stance the church has is based on propaganda they are fed from the government.

      Your claim it leads to harder drugs? Here is your “gateway theory” on trial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY0TQ1uOn3k

      Its a great medicine created by God. Of course it can be abused, anything can be a addiction. People are addicted to sex. Is sex wrong? Not at all in the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman.

      All I am saying is cannabis is not evil, its good. Its what you do with it that leads to sin, not the consumption of it.

      Another question… What about the E1, E2 receptors in our brains? There only purpose is for cannabinoids. Cannabinoids bind to these receptors, there is no change needed. Asprin ingested into our bodies need many chemical changes to actually work. Most substances are this way. Cannabinoids dont. They are also naturally created in our bodies. A new born baby has about the same amount of endocannabinoids in their system as 1 gram of cannabis. It triggers their appetite, and many other functions, like immune system, and protection in the brain against sensory overload leading to strokes. I read this in a medical journal but I will have to dig up where the link is if your interested

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabinoid_receptor
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocannabinoids

      My final point.
      Please, as a loving Christian, tell a dying cancer patient to their face that their choice of medicine should only be synthetic pills with hundreds of side effects, potentially fatal costing $1000’s of dollars a month, and a plant that the Lord Jesus himself created and said was good is evil and its a sin. Good luck ever leading them to the Lord. While they are so sick they just wished they were dead, please tell them their choice to use a completely safe natural organic medicine is wrong.

      I dont know about you, but I love my neighbors, and no one should be locked up, fined, forced to work a debt to society for possession of a herb. If they do something worth being arrested for then so be it. Prisons, jail, fines, etc doesn’t help people. Jesus helps people. Step out and love someone, try and feel a hurting for those people who are lost. Instead of saying these pot heads are evil and need punishment because that will make demand go down, why dont you find out why these people are hurting, listen to them, and offer our Jesus to help their needs. I have shared my faith to people so many times while the use of cannabis was involved. People are open to what I have to say, and God is glorified.

      Amen

      Reply
  8. Joe
    Joe says:

    There is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana for recreational purposes. Have any of you ever even tried it ? Do you even know why it was made illegal in the first place ? Prohibition is now and has always been politically, financially and racially driven.
    Everything you know is a lie !

    Look up cannabis and cancer on Google and see what you find. i would also encourage people to look into cannabis and it’s relationship to your Endocannabinoid system.

    The only violence and crime caused by marijuana is from the prohibition against it !

    Reply
  9. Bobby Earle
    Bobby Earle says:

    I have some thoughts. A couple of quick notes that might be of worth…

    1. I am a dedicated Christian and I take my faith seriously.

    2. I grew up in the skateboard scene — around every drug out there — and never cared to use. I never even drank.

    3. I have countless amounts of friends all over the nation and the world who regularly and constantly smoke weed. I love them and feel FAR more at home around them than I do in some bar in the States with a bunch of drinkers/partiers/clubbers. Just so people don’t think I’m some prude who hates potheads. I hang out with people who do WAY worse and feel right at home around them.

    Anyways, awesome post, Miles.

    I was diagnosed with a really crappy, incurable disease about 9 months ago. I don’t prefer at all to smoke weed — only smoked it one time in a country where it was legal and thought “Wow… that’s not nearly as awesome as everyone always swears…”. After my diagnosis it was suggested for me. I now literally thank God every day for it. I don’t know how I would live day to day without it. I don’t say that dramatically — without it I would lead a very rough, unenjoyable life. And to give you an idea, I go through MAYBE $40 worth a month. Very, very little.

    I used to strongly believe that, if given the choice, I would make weed legal and alcohol illegal. Once I smoked weed, I completely disagreed. Alcohol seems so much worse because it’s extremely common. The reason why we don’t have TONS of social problems from weed (like we do from alcohol) is because alcohol is far, far more common.

    Fact is, social weed smokers are far more rare than social drinkers. Nearly every one that I know who smokes weed (who make up tons of my friends all over the world) smoke it constantly. Dennis Prager asked a great question with this. He asked if you would prefer to live on a street where everyone drank or a street where everyone smoked weed. For the most part, I have far more negative feelings about alcohol and I would choose the street with drinkers in a heartbeat. I believe that weed is unique in that there’s something about it that lends itself to constant use. Most people who drink aren’t people who drink every day to the point where they are buzzed and/or drunk. But the VAST majority of people I know who smoke weed smoke large amounts of it multiple times a day. This is an important point to me.

    Personally, I wouldn’t ever want it legalized for recreational use. If weed were to catch on like alcohol has (in the sense that it becomes normal for most adults to use it), I believe it would have a terrible effect on society. This is because I believe that most people who smoke weed don’t end up being social smokers — they end up being the equivalent to alcoholics. It’s true that you won’t have a bunch of cases of husbands beating wives and children — but there would be other serious consequences. Weed simply tends to produce incredibly lazy, unproductive people who’s lives revolve around weed. And I say this affectionately as I know so many wonderful people who fall in this category. A country of 300 million people with a significant percentage being heavy pot users would have a horrible effect on society, imo.

    I am fortunate to be able to have feet firmly planted with plenty of low-income friends and plenty of unbelievably talented, successful individuals. Just last week I spent the weekend up in SF working with CEO’s and CMO’s of multi-billion dollar companies, people who founded insane things like Twitter and Facebook, Apple execs, and so on. In having friends and business associates who literally run the world and having friends who are low income, normal people, I’ve found something that’s probably pretty obvious. Of nearly every person I know who smokes weed (and, again, I can’t even count how many I know), the ONLY people who smoke weed and are successful are in the arts (which makes up probably less than 1% of successful people in the States, I’d imagine). Nearly everyone else is unsuccessful. In my experiences, weed tends to have a real life consequence in regard to individual success.

    Now you absolutely can smoke weed and get a similar “buzz” that you do with a beer or two. I do it every day. I do not enjoy being stoned — especially since I have a son. When I smoke just a little too much, it’s as if I’m not even a part of his life. I feel like I’m completely missing out on him growing up. I also don’t really enjoy feeling stupid, laughing at stuff that I know isn’t funny, forgetting what I was talking about, and all the other things that come along with being stoned. So I do have to disagree with whoever said that you can drink without getting drunk but you can’t smoke without getting stoned. I know first hand that this isn’t the case.

    And I believe that it absolutely has significant potential to make you more interested in other drugs — especially with youth and young adults. I don’t even know how people can attempt to argue this seriously aside from just saying it because you like weed.

    I’m rambling now… 🙂

    Awesome stuff, Miles!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *