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Should Followers of Christ Use Recreational Marijuana?

Should Followers of Christ Use Recreational Marijuana?


What has grass to do with the gospel?

My father, a pharmacist, was convinced that smoking pot meant going to pot. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s with the impression that even a casual flirtation with Mary Jane would be my ruin. Consequently, I have no personal knowledge on which to draw to address what for many Americans has become, or is becoming, the new normal: the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Where does recreational use of legalized marijuana fit into Christian ethics and living? Jesus says his yoke is easy (Matt. 11:30), but a toke is easier still. What, if anything, should pastors say? May disciples light up as they take up Christ’s cross?

Recreational marijuana use has just become legal in my home state of Illinois. It was already legal in several other states. Local counties and communities are divided over whether to allow the sale of recreational marijuana (medical marijuana is a separate issue). THC (the mind-altering chemical in cannabis) can now be ingested in baked goods, drunk, and smoked (Chicago-based Cresco Labs makes more than 500 marijuana products).

Those in favor anticipate a boost in revenue (through sales taxes and licensing fees); those against it worry about the expenses it may incur on health services and the untold personal and social costs to those who become addicted or suffer psychotic episodes.

The Bible is silent on the subject of marijuana (but not intoxication). It is not the fruit from the tree of the garden in Eden, and it would be clever but mistaken to see a veiled reference in John 6:10: “Now there was much grass in the place.”

Still, there are good reasons to avoid what we could call “the normative principle of weedship”—to argue that anything not expressly forbidden by Scripture may be smoked.

The Dope on Pot: What Everyone Needs to Know

Proponents of recreational pot point out that the Netherlands legalized it in the 1970s, and it did not lead to widespread crime, much less the collapse of Dutch society. Supporters of legalization argue that cannabis is safer than alcohol or tobacco, if used in moderation. A good book from the perspective of public policy on the pros and cons of legalized pot is Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.

While some users report a heightened awareness of sensory experience, studies conclude that the net effect of using pot is some degree of cognitive impairment, and a less executive “executive function.” The…



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