In legalizing recreational marijuana, the values of financial gain, popular opinion, and personal freedom are apparently more important than the values of physical, mental, and emotional health

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Bert Perry's picture

When I looked at things like the CDC and NIH sources the author uses, I noticed quite a bit of statements like "is linked to" without any actual numbers (let alone confidence ranges) or arguments for causality, as well as a lot of "may be".  Statistically speaking, this is code for "we really don't know" or "the mean is statistically, but not practically, significant."  

Put in blunt terms, it means that our understanding of this drug is little better than back in 1936, when Reefer Madness was produced.  Whatever our positions on legalization, I think the DEA owes it to us to make large scale studies practical so we can actually have some decent answers. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/455147/marijuana-decriminalization...

The time has come to decriminalize marijuana. During the latter part of his administration, President Obama time and again used memoranda and other extra-legal means to try to change federal law. Moving beyond drug enforcement, Obama took significant independent action pertaining to immigration and civil rights. For example, his administration defied the will of Congress on immigration, granting lawful presence to DREAMers and the parents of lawful residents (DACA and DAPA), and dramatically expanded the scope of Title VII and Title IX to extend protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Obama often justified his unconstitutional actions by claiming that Congress “failed to act.” What he meant is that Congress failed to do what he wanted. Yet there is no clause in the Constitution that grants the president the authority to disregard the separation of powers to achieve progressive policy goals. Unfortunately even members of Congress sometimes inadequately defend the legislative branch’s constitutional prerogatives. This morning, Colorado Republican senator Cory Gardner declared that Sessions had contradicted personal assurances made before his confirmation and “trampled on the will of the voters in [Colorado] and other states.” No, senator, this is exactly wrong. Congress banned the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana nationwide. Thus it is Congress that tramples on the will of Colorado voters. It is Congress that is violating federalist principles in law enforcement.

Gardner is positioned exactly where he needs to be to reform America’s drug laws. As a senator, he could introduce or co-sponsor legislation that explicitly decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level and leaves marijuana laws to the states. And there are multiple powerful arguments he could make in support of such a bill. First, there’s the federalist argument. In a polarized and divided nation, respecting self-governance and state sovereignty becomes more important, not less. So long as state governments respect fundamental constitutional rights, let California be California and let Colorado be Colorado. As a resident of Tennessee, I’m happy to observe the results of their social, legal, and cultural experiments from a distance. Second, in a nation with a massive prison population that’s so often torn apart by controversy over police shootings and alleged violations of civil rights, it’s important to look for creative ways to decrease police/civilian interactions and lessen government regulation of private behavior. Simply put, we need fewer criminal statutes and fewer prisoners. No one should believe that marijuana decriminalization will make a material difference in mass incarceration (it won’t), but observing places like California and Colorado will teach us whether we can make a modest start without harming public safety. Finally, it’s important to know whether marijuana actually possesses meaningful medicinal benefits. Our nation is in the grips of an opioid crisis caused in large part by over-prescription of extraordinarily addictive and potent narcotics. In some instances, marijuana could potentially replace harder and more dangerous drugs. Serious scientific study of that potential is warranted, and Congress should make it easier for doctors to conduct such study.
 

David R. Brumbelow's picture

As legal recreational marijuana sales began in California Jan. 1, Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg bemoaned the increased "human toll" the drug is likely to have on America's most populous state.

"Whatever economic gains the legalization of marijuana will supposedly produce will be offset by the human toll on damaged relationships, loss of productivity in the workforce and the cost of expanded social programs to deal with the fallout of this bad social experiment," Iorg, leader of Southern Baptists' Ontario, Calif.-based seminary, told Baptist Press in written comments. "It's another step in the wrong direction for a culture bent on self-medication as a solution to personal struggles.

http://www.bpnews.net/50125/marijuanas-human-toll-anticipated-in-calif

David R. Brumbelow

Ron Bean's picture

Cigarette smoking is condemned in our society because the inhalation of smoke has been deemed highly negative to one's personal health as well as causing secondary harm to those in the area.

BUT, marijuana smoking, which requires deeper inhalation and retention of smoke for maximum benefit is now condoned and defended.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

TylerR's picture

Editor

I don't believe you can make a case for alcohol prohibition from Scripture. But, I think it is clear that alcohol consumption, smoking and marijuana use are not holy activities. Do they contribute to holiness, in any way? Certainly not. 

I believe the states want to legalize marijuana for the income it produces. In Washington State (where marihuana has been legalized), this is a big business. It's all about revenue, And, once that money source is opened up, they'll never criminalize it again. They want the money. At the core of it, of course, is the tragedy that the government is promoting and condoning destructive behavior so it can raise more revenue. Makes me look forward to Jesus' Kingdom even more. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

I am probably different on this than most but I am totally against drug use yet am totally for individual states having the autonomy to decide for themselves. 

Jay's picture

I agree with JoshP and think that, politically speaking, this is a matter that should be left to the individual states for regulation and legalization.

That being said, I think that it is important to note that marijuana (and derivates) can be used for legitimate medicinal purposes, with minimal side effects as compared to pharmaceutical drugs.  I would further say that we should be open to its' use (via doctor's prescription) for medical purposes, especially in light of the growing opioid addiction rates.  This website lists some benefits:

  • AIDS - Marijuana can reduce the nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting from the condition itself and the medications as well.
  • Glaucoma - Marijuana relieves the internal eye pressure of glaucoma, and therefore relieving the pain and slowing or even stopping the condition.
  • Cancer- Many side effects of the medication to stop cancer can be relieve[d] with Marijuana, some studies suggest that Marijuana tends to slow down the progress of some types of cancer.
  • Multiple Sclerosis - Muscle pain, spasticity, tremors and unsteadiness are some of the effects caused by the disease that can be relieved by Marijuana.
  • Epilepsy - in some patients, epileptic seizures can be prevented with Marijuana use.
  • Chronic pain - Marijuana helps to alleviate the pain caused from many types of injuries and disorders.

I would prefer to have a person in my congregation who uses marijuana medicinally, with all the subsequent issues, than have someone who is struggling with addiction to pharmaceuticals, especially given Western medicine's tendency (in my opinion) to prescribe drugs first and diagnose root causes later.

As for the wisdom of recreational drug use, I maintain that it is best for believers to abstain from all these types of substances, in keeping with scriptural passages like I Cor. 6:19-20.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding the use of intoxicants, sorry, but if Jesus made wine for a party in John 2, and He did, then we ought not consider their use to be intrinsically unholy.  There are holy uses for it, and one of them happens to be things like celebrating a wedding.  Another is the relief of human misery in disease--see Proverbs 31.  To argue otherwise really makes Sola Scriptura and the First Fundamental dead letters in our theology. Choose wisely. 

Never mind the obvious; if the use of any intoxicant is wrong, the person with that opinion needs to put up or shut up and give up all caffeine.  No coffee, no tea, no chocolate.  Keep in mind as well that caffeine, unlike marijuana, does have a lethal dose.

Regarding marijuana in particular, one stat that is interesting to me is that opiate deaths drop 25% in states that legalize it.  In other words, people who were using opiates, which are far more physically addictive and have lethal overdose effects, find similar, or even superior, comfort with whatever is in dope.  I'm no fan of getting drunk or stoned--defined in places as in Proverbs 23--but the apparent alternative in many cases appears to be opiates vs. dope.  Not a tough choice if I have to make it!

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

The Bible on Sobriety

Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober. -1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.  -1 Timothy 3:2

But hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled.  -Titus 1:8

That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience.  -Titus 2:2

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded.  -Titus 2:6

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. -Titus 2:12

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  -1 Peter 1:13

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  -1 Peter 5:8

Sobriety would speak against all recreational, mind-altering drugs.  Alcohol, marijuana, opioids… 

David R. Brumbelow

TylerR's picture

Editor

Of course, a state can decide to go its own way on the marijuana issue, if it wants to. The larger issue, in my opinion, is that government (at local, state and federal level) shouldn't encourage activity that is fundamentally immoral and destructive.

The secular arguments against marijuana use will usually focus on the destructive implications to one's own body. They'll be aware of the moral implications, but they won't touch it - because people are generally reluctant to appeal to morality (and, by extension, an ultimate moral foundation) in the public square. That's too bad. The argument is won or lost with morality, with right and wrong. The destructive health consequences are merely the fruit of a bad moral choice.

The core of the issue is the morality of the act. And, a government (local, state or federal) which encourages and promotes immoral behavior has lost its way.   

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

Marijuana laws seem somewhat analogous to:

Minnesota has a very sane medical cannabis program. Details here: http://www.health.state.mn.us/topics/cannabis/patients/conditions.html

 

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that this is a key thing, and it's one where really, IMO, we ought to do a bit more digging into the Scriptures and see whether X use of Y drug is indeed immoral.  Yes, we ought to keep our temples, but the context of 1 Cor. 6:19-20 is sexual immorality, not food and drink or other substances.  And if we're going to argue that dope or wine is wrong because of the harms that arise, may I remind the forum that the biggest killer in the United States is the "Standard American Diet" and lack of exercise?  Deaths due to dope are not even within two orders of magnitude of this butcher's bill of over 600,000 per year.  

To draw a picture, suppose we had here on this forum the example of a man who ditched a daily dose of several Oxycontin each day for a small dose of marijuana to treat his back pain.  Do we accuse him of wrongdoing because he has chosen a less intoxicating, less addictive drug to handle his issues simply because the government says it's illegal?   What about the woman who uses THC to control the nausea during chemotherapy?  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

When we're discussing morality, intent matters - every time you commit the act. Som here are some quick implications:

  • I'd have to be convinced that marijuana is permissible for pain relief. That is, it actually relieves pain and this is only intended use a Christian would have for it. I am very skeptical of the "it's for pain relief" arguments, because I fear it's little more than a pious Trojan horse for the real goal - full legalization for all.
  • If I were convinced of this argument, then the Christian would have to really analyze, in every instance, why he is using the substance. This is where it is tempting to use the pious excuse as a smokescreen for something else. I need the pain pills, because I'm in pain - although I'm not really in pain, anymore ... The same for marijuana. Morality gets its teeth (in part) from the intentions of the actor.

I am well aware of the hypocrisy of gladly using prescribed controlled substances, while attacking those who want to use marijuana for the same reasons. Some Christians aren't so aware, it seems! I'm just skeptical about the entire "pain relief" argument for marijuana; I fear it's a smokescreen for licentiousness and the "findings" in support of it are partisan.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

http://www.health.state.mn.us/topics/cannabis/patients/conditions.html

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting.
  • Glaucoma.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Tourette Syndrome.
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of Epilepsy.
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease.
  • Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less than one year*
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Bert Perry's picture

First, some results from Colorado; it is hard, really, to make politics out of how many dead bodies with blue lips you're finding, no?  And that number has dropped since recreational marijuana became legal there.  

Second, more on marijuana and painkilling from the NASME.  That at least some chronic pain conditions can be effectively treated with funny weed seems strongly likely here.  

That doesn't negate the fact that THC is, indeed, an intoxicant, as Maureen Dowd found (hilariously) to her distress.  But back to the original article, if you want to use "financial gain" as a marker for impropriety, it's worth noting that prescription opioids can benefit from patent protection and have rich profit margins.   In contrast, you can't patent a plant that grows wild in every state in the nation.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

In Colorado, teen pot use has actually declined since legalization, accompanied by drops in the use of other drugs (including alcohol) in the same time frame in other age demographics.  Here is similar information about Portugal, which has decriminalized almost all drugs.

Against intoxication?  Great.  Let's talk about legalization.

Why does it work?  Simple; when you have a ban, you tend to get a few suppliers with captive markets who don't need to care about the purity, quality, or strength.  They get their money no matter what, which is why you read about bathtub gin blinding people, household cleaners in street drugs, and the like.  You also prevent users from forming communities to share information about their product of choice.  

End that, and suddenly everybody involved is able to keep track of all this, and you end up with fewer addicts, ironically. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.