Marijuana was in the news recently because Canada legalized recreational use of this substance. People around the world who use it erupted in celebration, expressing hope that their own country will follow Canada’s lead.
My feelings and thoughts are mixed.
On the one hand, I hope no one uses this substance, because the downside of doing so is apparent to anyone with even the tiniest shred of intellectual honesty. Of course, intellectual honesty is hard to find when it comes to this issue, as many people who try to sell the idea that marijuana is a good thing dismiss any criticism of it by citing a stupid anti-marijuana movie called “Refer Madness” that was produced almost a hundred years ago while ignoring the mountain of medical studies that have been conducted over the decades since which document the detrimental effects using marijuana can have on a the mental, physical and psychiatric health of those using it.
On the other hand, there’s two main reasons why governments make something illegal. The first is to try and make it more difficult for the illegal thing to be done, and the second is to try and attach some social stigma to it to discourage it more broadly. In both cases, the illegality of marijuana has been a spectacular failure. Everywhere I’ve ever lived it was illegal, but people who wanted to use it had little difficulty in acquiring it and there was hardly any stigma attached to it at all.
So, sadly, I have come to the conclusion that it is inevitable that people WILL use marijuana and so it’s better that governments legalize its use so that it can be managed, regulated, taxed and supervised. The alternative is what we’ve seen for the last several decades, with the illegal trade in this substance causing major problems for law enforcement, the health care system, and society in general.
I think many of those problems will persist even after its been legalized, especially health issues. But again, it’s something that can’t be eliminated so the next least bad thing is to manage it. The experience the US had with attempting to outlaw alcohol in the early 1930s is instructive here, for both sides of the argument.
All of this leads to another question and that is whether it’s okay for a Believer to use marijuana if the government in the area where they live has legalized it.
After all, the Bible tells us in several passages in both the Old and New Testaments that governments are established by God for the purpose of ruling over the affairs of human beings on God’s behalf (eg: Proverbs 8:15, Daniel 2:21, Romans 13:1-2, Titus 3:1) so if the government says it’s okay, does that make it okay?
The answer to that question is pretty obvious, as abortion is legal in most countries of the world, but clearly this does not reflect God’s standards. There’s also the sub-culture that has grown up around marijuana use that has as its foundation a rejection of and rebellion against authority, starting with parents, but also including the legal authority of the police and the government, the moral authority of religious leaders and ultimately God Himself.
It’s hard to avoid getting caught up in that if you’re using marijuana.
(As a side-note, it’s always good to remember who the first rebel was, that is, Satan the Devil. If you see a person, or a song, or a social movement, or whatever which is encouraging and/or promoting rebellion against legitimate authority, it’s almost always the case that the spiritual power behind it comes from Hell and it is to Hell that it is leading those foolish enough to follow along.)
But even if One manages to avoid getting caught up in this sub-culture of rebellion, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
There’s no escaping or rationalizing the fact that inhaling the smoke from burning marijuana, or tobacco, or crack cocaine, or opium, or whatever other narcotic substance one could name, will damage your body, and thus desecrate this temple to the Holy Spirit. It will also impair One’s ability to do the work that God put One on this earth to do and use the gifts He gave One to do it.
From where I’m sitting, what all this adds up to is that governments legalizing marijuana use has sadly become the least bad way to try and manage it and minimize the down side. But Believers must diligently pray and work to discourage others from using marijuana (or any other kind of drug) out of love for God’s children, including ourselves, much like we pray and work to discourage abortion and other devices the Enemy uses to kill, rob and destroy.