Recently, I had a conversation with our college pastor, Jordan Terrell, and our Executive Pastor, Paul Brunner, as we were driving through Boulder. Strangely enough, our conversation turned to the use of marijuana. I have no idea why driving through Boulder would prompt a conversation like that (if you missed the sarcasm, you’ve never been to Boulder). Jordan was telling us that many college students tend to lead off a conversation by asking a simple question: “Do you smoke?” When they ask this question, they aren’t referring to the use of tobacco products. Instead, they are referring to weed. Jordan also told us that many college students have medical cards so they can legally buy weed at dispensaries.
As these dispensaries have popped up everywhere and more and more people are being prescribed marijuana, the issue of its morality has become complicated. What I mean is this: when it was illegal, it was easier to answer the question, “Is it okay to smoke weed?” The answer was simply, “No,” because it was illegal. In the same way, I would say it’s wrong for a seventeen-year-old to drink alcohol in this country because it’s illegal. In the same way, I would say it’s wrong to rob a bank. The Bible commands us to obey the laws of our land (Romans 13:1-7).
However, now that marijuana has been legalized to the extent that a doctor can prescribe it, the issue is more complex. First of all, I think we have to be honest about two things. One is that many people are abusing this system to simply get high, and many others are making money off of this. To that extent, abusing marijuana that is prescribed to you would be no different than abusing any other drug that a doctor prescribes to you. This would also violate scripture: we are commanded to honor God with our bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), which to be fair, calls into question constantly eating at any fast food joint, as well. I’m not going to spend a lot of time listing all the harmful effects of abusing marijuana, as those are well documented.
Secondly, we are commanded to be sober-minded (Titus 2:2), which refers to thinking clearly… which, in turn, means we are commanded to be SOBER. In other words, taking anything that alters your state of mind and leads to being intoxicated is sinful. So let’s be honest. Most of the people who have medical cards are taking advantage of a system that makes it easy to get high without the consequences of breaking the law. I realize that’s a broad statement, and it will probably anger a lot of people… the truth often has that effect.
There used to be a dispensary next door to one of my family member’s houses, and as we sat on the front porch, I got a front row seat to see what kind of “patients” this dispensary was serving. From a judgmental and stereotypical position, I have to admit that most of the people who walked in the door looked and acted like every other “stoner” I’ve known in my life. Likewise, the amount of customers who were obviously battling some sort of major injury or significant illness (such as cancer) paled in comparison to the young people with no apparent injury or illness. I recognize this is a very limited perspective. I’m just telling you that my gut says something is amiss.
At the same time, there are people who suffer legitimate medical conditions; conditions with symptoms that marijuana can help alleviate. There are people who legitimately use (not abuse) marijuana. These people don’t pursue an intoxicated state of mind, but rather a treatment for an injury or illness. It wouldn’t be sinful for a person who is prescribed marijuana by their doctor – for the sake of treating a legitimate medical issue – to use that prescription. It wouldn’t be any more sinful than taking any other drug prescribed by a doctor, whether it’s an anti-depressant, ADHD medication, or Advil.
I hope this gives a balanced and, most importantly, biblical perspective on the issue.
Scott.Tags: marijuana, medicinal, pot, weed