Christian Liberty: Christians and the Use of Recreational Marijuana

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Bert Perry's picture

We can extend this basic argument (and John pretty much does) to a lot of drugs where it's hard to use just a little and stay in the "not severely intoxicated" stage.  Well said.  It is perhaps plausible for someone to say "well, I just put this much in a whole batch of brownies and I never get that far", but I have to admit that, given my love for chocolate, it wouldn't be entirely plausible for me to avoid ending up like Maureen Dowd and Dom DeLuise combined.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

What about a woman who suffers from debilitating migraines and the doctor offers to prescribe her medical marijuana, and no other treatment option has worked, and she's been suffering for nearly 10 years, and her friends tell her it's worked for them?

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?

Bert Perry's picture

My response to Tyler's question above.  Really, if we wouldn't fault someone with serious back pain or terminal cancer pain for using painkillers to cope, painkillers far more addictive and dangerous than THC, why would we tell the person suffering from migraines that she couldn't have a nibble of Maureen Dowd's candy bar?  I know that I sure appreciated the painkillers (including morphine) that I was given when my gallbladder acted up in 2007!  And yes, coming out of surgery, I was probably "stoned", coming in and out of lucidity.  It wasn't anything where I said "wow, this is great, let's do it again", but my mind was altered at the time and I'm really glad I didn't say anything TOO dumb!

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

The use of the word "recreational" in the title and throughout the post is intentional. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I know, and saw the distinction. I just thought I'd ask the question, because someone else would bring it up sooner or later.

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?

John E.'s picture

Well, in that case, I'll let others fight it out over the medicinal use of marijuana. There is too much information and data that I haven't looked at regarding the medicinal use of marijuana for me to feel comfortable publicly sharing my half-formed opinions about it. 

Todd Mitchell's picture

I was with him till he dismissively assumed that you can't use cannabis without getting to the point of drunkenness as prohibited by God's Word. As one who smoked/vaped half a gram of high-grade bud a day for six years, I know better. 

I haven't used any for a couple of months, since I no longer need it for pain relief (I used it to get off oxycodone, which I took for three years after back surgery). I've lost 150 lbs this year with diet and exercise, much decreasing my pain. But at first, the pain was excruciating every time I started walking on that treadmill. Thank God for cannabis! I smoked/vaped immediately before going into the gym, and it helped me push through the pain. 

And as I walked on that treadmill for an hour every morning, I did it while reading a reasonably serious book propped up in front of me. Is that what you would expect from a drunkard? Discipline? Hard work? Cultivating the life of the mind? 

This gentleman may have been a drunkard in the way he used cannabis, but I assure you that he doesn't speak for every cannabis user. Not by a long shot. 

A regular user with a stabilized tolerance can reliably smoke/vape 0.1g of high-grade cannabis without becoming any more intoxicated than he would by drinking one beer, if that. 

Jim's picture

Todd Mitchell wrote:
I've lost 150 lbs this year with diet and exercise

This is amazing! And congratulations!

Would love to hear how you did this with details. Perhaps on the Aaron article here

John E.'s picture

1 gram of weed is enough to roll one joint with. Assuming normal physiology, someone recreationally smoking an entire joint will get high. Full stop. 

Now, that being said, I chose my words very carefully, as in "recreational" and "normal physiology." Your explanation for why you were ingesting marijuana removes you from what I wrote about.

I almost put an addendum predicting responses like the one provided by Todd Mitchell. Every time I write or speak about this, no matter the words I use, people who didn't/don't ingest for recreational purposes and didn't/don't have a normal physiology chime in and say, "he's wrong."    

Todd Mitchell's picture

When I described it to my physician and mentioned 0.1g, he replied, "Oh, so just a one-ie." Call that a joint and you'll get laughed at by anyone who knows better.

I rarely smoked joints. You know why? They were a pain to put out and save the smelly thing for later -- because even a small one was enough for at least three sessions. Definitely too big to smoke in one session responsibly!

To suggest that my physiology is abnormal takes your argument from anecdote into a wholly speculative direction, no matter how loudly you say, "Full stop."

And to dismiss my experience as being medicinal simply 1) begs the question of what recreational use might be 2) ignores my argument because it is damaging to yours. At issue is the effect of a microdose of cannabis, not the intent of the user.

Jim's picture

The cannabis decision tree

  • Is it legal? 

    • If NOT then a violation of Romans 13 
    • If YES pass to next test?
  • Is it medically prescribed?
    • It wouldn't be prescribed if illegal
    • If prescribed, the issue is between the believer, his doctor and the Lord
    • If NOT prescribed then the next "test"
  • Is this a liberty issue? 
    • Does one's church have a covenant he has agreed to abide?

      • If YES, then a violation of an agreement
      • But there is a church that does not have it in its covenant! 
    • If NOT in a covenant then a wisdom issue between a believer and his Lord
John E.'s picture

Are you actually arguing for the use of 1/10th of a gram? I thought that was a typo. 

Did you stop reading my article before you finished it in order to make a comment? Because I'm pretty sure that 1/10th of a gram fits within my two to three drags. I don't remember how many drags it took me to finish a joint, and frankly I never kept track. But 20 to 30 seems about right, if not high (no pun intended). And that raises the question, recreationally speaking, what's the point of smoking 1/10th of gram?

I'm not ignoring your argument, I'm saying it doesn't apply to what I wrote because I simply did not write about the medicinal use of marijauna. And if you don't understand the difference between medicinal use and recreational use, I don't know how to break it down for you other than the one (medicinal) is for, well, medicinal use - pain management, for example. The other (recreational) is because the user wants to ingest marijuana for no other reason than they want to because they enjoy it. 

I'm not assuming that your physiology isn't normal. Your back surgery, subsequent pain, and narcotic use alters physiology. That's not my fault. How and to what extent, I don't know, which is one of the reasons (just one of the reasons) why I stay out of the medicinal use argument. 

Look, dude, I'll grant you that you know far more about the medicinal use of marijuana than I do. But I don't think you know very much about the "recreational" weed culture. Using the words "smoke in one session responsibly" in reference to a single joint will get you laughed at. 

Todd Mitchell's picture

So, all recreational use results in drunkenness, because if it doesn't, it's not recreational? 

I'm a member of NORML. In earlier life, I spent 10 years as a street cop in the Twin Cities. I've been around the block, and I've seen plenty, too -- enough to know better than to attempt the kind of categorical syllogisms you are peddling.

John E.'s picture

There is a tiny amount that a person can smoke recreationally that won't get them high. I acknowledged that in the article. My question is, why would they? In other words, if a person isn't using it for medicinal reasons, what's the purpose of smoking weed if not to get high? Especially since it takes so very little of it to get a person high. 

Todd Mitchell's picture

For the same reason one might consume alcohol in moderation -- to gladden the heart without getting drunk.

John E.'s picture

Todd, I gotta be honest with you. The fact that you are a member of an pro-marijuana advocacy group means that I'm done arguing with you about this online. If you're ever in DC and want to pick it back up, let me know. I'll be happy to do it in person.

For everyone else, I encourage to Google 1/10 of gram of marijuana. I'm pretty confident that you'll conclude that most (all) people who want to smoke weed recreationally are not smoking that small of an amount. The question remains, why smoke weed recreationally if not to get high?    

Bert Perry's picture

Having been told I'm allergic to the stuff, it's presumably academic to me, but let's assume someone could use that small amount without getting seriously high.  Should we care?  "Ifs and buts, if they were candy and nuts, boy what a party we'd have" and all that, but again; should we care?

The next question I'd ask if trying to formulate things with a user is "what would be the attraction of that level of usage?"  For a good beer or wine, I get it--many enjoy the taste, and in low doses, it's a convivial feeling of well-being that the Germans call "Gemuetlichkeit".  What would it be for marijuana?

(and yes, I've been diagnosed as allergic....as a teen, I came in with bright red eyes from ragweed, upon which the doctor immediately asked "you're not smokin' dope, are you son?", and later, when he did scratch tests on my back, he said "hey, son, you're allergic to dope".  OK, thanks, doc....)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

Do you believe that buzzed falls under the Bible's prohibition against drunkenness? And are there levels of buzzed? Generally, weed users classify the experience in three colloquial stages - buzzed, high, and baked/stoned.

For starters, the buzz from weed happens way sooner than it does from alcohol, and its intensity increases much quicker. Once again, for me, as I argued in my article, it comes down to the scale - it takes so little to reach a level of buzzed/high with weed that the recreational use is rendered out of of bounds for Christians. Unless there is another reason to smoke it recreationally than reaching a level of intoxication, that is. And then, unless you're using really cheap, bad weed, you could only take 2 to 3 drags, if that and if you're okay with saying that the Bible allows for being buzzed. Much more than that, and you'll quickly cross into high.

Bert Perry's picture

How are we defining "buzzed"?   What effects are we talking about?  What is the dosage that would lead to it for, say, a 200 lb man?

To draw a comparison, the state police here are telling us that "buzzed driving is drunk driving", which would imply that they're saying their experience is that when a person reports feeling "buzzed", they're at 0.08 or higher and have seriously impaired motor function and perception.  If you're using about the same kind of thing, I'd have to say that if someone were to use marijuana (or any other drug) responsibly, they'd have to come in somewhere below the "buzz" level.  

And yes, that would bring up the question of "what's the point, then?"

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

How are we defining buzzed? 

The reality is that it takes very little weed to get an adult buzzed to the point where they should not be operating a motor vehicle. So very little, in fact, as you recognize, "that would bring up the question of 'what's the point, then?'" if we believe and teach that Christians should not get buzzed. 

David R. Brumbelow's picture

A statement we use:

We believe abstaining from the recreational use of dangerous drugs (alcohol, marijuana, opioids, etc.) is both safe and wise.  Drugs should only be used for strictly medicinal purposes, and even then with great caution. (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; 1 Peter 5:8) 

David R. Brumbelow

TylerR's picture

Editor

Good statement.

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?

Bert Perry's picture

Take a look at Colossians 2:20-23.  What do we see in these man-made regulations but a complete lack of power to restrain sensual indulgence?  Plus, I can think of a drug that put a college friend in the hospital that's abundant in every church I've ever visited.  It can be lethal.  

I can go with John's argument--that it is virtually implausible that one would be able to use marijuana recreationally without getting high--but let's not go beyond what Scripture says and call it "godliness".  It's not.  It's Pharisaism, trying to put boundaries around God's Word to avoid transgressing it in one area--and inevitably transgressing it in another as a result. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

We have reached a critical nexus; a perfect storm - alcohol and marijuana in the same thread. The space-time continuum may not be able to handle this. I must leave now.

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?

Jay's picture

I really liked Jim's bullet pointed decision tree and David Brumbelow's position statement as well, although I would add 1 Corinthians 6:12 (yes, I know the immediate context is not drugs or alcohol) and probably Romans 14 as well.

That being said, we have a huge problem with opioid addiction in my area, and I have to think that cannabis use is preferable to opioid drugs for medical reasons.  It's not a situation that I've had to counsel for yet, but a lot of the prescribed drugs seem to have far worse side effects and habit-forming consequences than marijuana.  It's something that I need to look into.  I've seen some evidence that marijuana can do a lot of things to help alleviate pain and suffering when used wisely.

But aside from medicine, I think abstention from alcohol and marijuana is the best, wisest, and safest route for believers.

"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

John E.'s picture

You've given me an idea for a post - on church covenants and the making of lists and regulations. 

Steve Newman's picture

I've been working on this because our church is looking at this section of our covenant. It's an older-style constitution that states that those who agree will neither use or sell alcohol, for example, but doesn't deal with addictive drugs, prescription drug abuse, etc. 

I think we are headed for a statement closer to what Dave has laid out. 

I understand Bert's concern that we cannot legislate morality, but are we to ignore it instead? Does it not reach a point where a church should counsel someone caught in such a problem? It does deal with medical situations (per Todd's concern) and could use more on the side of restoration. 

Bert Perry's picture

Steve, my concern is not about you can't legislate morality; every law is an attempt to do the same, and a well crafted church Constitution will have some comments that give members guidance on what kinds of behavior is, and is not, appropriate in the church.

Rather, my concern is that Colossians 3 clearly states that the rules of men have no value in restraining sensual indulgence.  None, zero, zip, nada, bupkus.   So if a clause is put into the church constitution that does not clearly derive from Scripture, it is in that category.   Extra-Biblical asceticism makes you think you're doing something when you're not, and that tends to end up in disaster.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.