All in Favor of Legalizing Weed, Please Light up. The Rest of us Better Start Praying
A number of states have recently legalized marijuana smoking to varying degrees and it looks like the liberalization of marijuana and other drug laws has some momentum. I don’t often write or comment in depth on public policy questions, but this one has my attention. In my calling, many public policy matters are transcended by much more vital matters of the soul, matters of life and death, matters of sin and salvation. So I tend to stick to those issues which seem to be more in sync with my calling as a preacher of the gospel. However, let me say a word about the legalization of smoking weed and I hope our young people will read this. As always, they are the target and their lives stand in the balance.
Some can’t resist making a joke out of this. The Onion, an online “newspaper” that specializes in a satirical look at the news, listed some of their pros and cons for legalizing weed:
- You can buy weed inside of a local Walgreens, instead of outside in the parking lot.
- Your local pusher will no longer be able to charge $80 for an eighth of an ounce.
- The FDA will finally be able to flawlessly regulate the safety and quality of marijuana just like it does with thousands of prescription drugs currently on the market.
- It would allow some people the fulfillment of their dream to blow pot smoke right in the face of the cops who stop them.
- This would require the re-writing of the nation’s DARE curriculum (not so funny)
- You and your drug dealer’s relationship would become more distant.
- Drug sniffing dogs would lose their jobs.
- We would have to listen to dopers tell their story of triumph over and over again.
OK, a little chuckle for that. But what are some of the REAL arguments in this debate?
For the legalizing of marijuana:
- Alcohol, an intoxicant, is legal. Why should Marijuana be any different? It is no worse. It is hypocritical to punish weed users, when we allow the use and abuse of alcohol.
- We are a land that allows personal freedom. Using marijuana is essentially “victimless” so why not permit it? Let’s err on the side of personal freedom.
- It is stupid to lock up large numbers of people at great expense for selling, growing, producing, or using marijuana.
- The war on drugs has essentially failed and we are wasting way too much time and effort on the pseudo-crime of smoking weed.
Against the legalizing of marijuana:
- It is a gateway drug. Whatever one thinks about the relative addictiveness of marijuana, certainly we can agree that for many people it tends to lead to using harder, more damaging, more addicting drugs.
- What message are we sending our youth? Do we want to teach them that the way to handle life is to habitually self-medicate, that it is cool to do so? Marijuana is clearly an intoxicant and people who use it use it to intoxicate themselves.
- In allowing legalization are we encouraging more use, especially among young people, such that we will have more dysfunctional, habitually intoxicated people? Will this lead to more child neglect and abuse, as did the opium trade in China? Have we failed to learn from history? Is smoking weed really, always “victimless?”
- The use and abuse of alcohol has led to countless cases of mentally and emotionally crippled adults and families, and damaged children. Are we inviting more of this? Is that good? With greater ease of acquisition, there will be greater use and abuse.
- We can handle the problem of excessive incarceration without total legalization. Other deterrents to production, sale and use can be adopted.
- Many, many cops seem to think legalization is a bad idea and they are willing to fight it. This is often a result of their personal experience with drug users.
I am persuaded by this latter line of reasoning. Marijuana smoking isn’t victimless, it isn’t a big nothing. It also sends the wrong message to young people about life and will lead to greater trouble and fracturing in lives, families and society. One of my daughters is an ICU nurse and takes care of many patients who overdose on drugs or who smash their cars while intoxicated. She was furious when her state (Colorado) legalized weed. She has seen what happens. Isn’t this something that should be fought rather than embraced?
There is little question that marijuana smoking is being marketed to the young. The Denver newspaper has a writer who is “reviewing” various brands of weed. I heard of a restaurant that offers advice on which version of weed to “partner” with which food, as if it is was fine wine or something.
I am no expert on all the scientific and sociological arguments. However one Psychiatrist wrote this,
“Research studies show that cannabis users are at a 40 percent increased risk of psychosis. Research studies show that marijuana may well be a risk factor for schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders.
And research shows that marijuana is linked to a syndrome in which people have little motivation to pursue goals and interests that they once found compelling.
In my own practice, I find that people addicted to marijuana can have lives veering out of control—without the energy to pursue employment, with relationships failing, with grades dropping—yet insist that their chronic, daily marijuana use has nothing to do with it. “[i]
Can’t we see the sadness and badness of a large number of people who want to constantly intoxicate themselves? And it does not take a genius to figure out that much harm will come from it. Today, over and over again, we seem to be fighting for the future direction of our country. We seem to be losing most of these battles. There is a desperate need for God. When we lose His glory, we lose our dignity. How the church needs to pray for our country! How the gospel needs to be preached with power. Help us Lord.