The New Church Pot-Luck

Adam HartleColorado may now be positioned to become THE tourist destination in 2014.

As the LA Times reported:

At the stroke of 8 a.m. on Wednesday Colorado became the first state in the nation where small amounts of retail marijuana legally can be sold in specialty shops.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado.

My question is, “How will, and how should people of faith respond to this change?”

I have seen a remarkable change in attitudes and practices with regard to alcohol in all but the most conservative Christian communities in my lifetime. Will similar changes in our attitudes toward at least some recreational drugs follow suit?

Will we start to hear “moderation” vs. “abstinence” arguments with regard to marijuana? Will Nadia Bolz Weber’s church change “Beer and Hymns” gatherings to “Pot and Hymns”? Will we accept pipes along with our pipe organs? Will the next group of “emerging” Christians use incense for more than aesthetic reasons?

We may well have just introduced a whole new meaning to “pot-luck” suppers.

114 thoughts on “The New Church Pot-Luck

  1. HUG, it also comes from the association of mj with Mexic. Our military involvement in the Mexican revolution has more than a little to do with that.

    As for the bad racial/ethnic stereotyping, yes. That was the heyday of Jim Crow, and Southerners in the cotton/textile industry used that as ammo to put the industrial hemp growers and hemp cloth/paper/etc, manufacturers out of business.


  2. By this point, marijuana has become a black and white issue, even more so than alcohol for many still is. It’s use is a SIN, period.

    Marijuana was outlawed around the same time alcohol became legal again after Prohibition. I wonder if (besides the big-bucks lobbying of the pulpwood industry) it was a matter of a Moral Panic Crusade shifting targets. Anyone know who put up the money for Reefer Madness and Marihuana: Weed with Roots in Hell?

    I do know pot and coke at the time had a big racial component. Both were in common use in the Jazz music community at the time, and Jazz was a black man’s music. (With its own drug lyrics, such as Cab Calloway’s “Reefer Man”.) And both pot & coke also had (or soon got) reputations for inducing sexual frenzy (thanks to the aforementioned hit movies) — another camouflage paint job for “Where da White Wimmen At?”


  3. Eating Dunkin’ Donuts while driving is not a great idea, either….nor is eating a bowl of cereal while driving, as a co-worker of mine told me she had done.


  4. Dana,

    I hear you on the way so many of the land, watershed, etc. It’s wrong. They’re about profit, and they don’t care how they go about it.

    marinol: it’s synth THC (and THC only), and is hugely expensive. Also makes many people very, very sick – as in severe nausea/vomiting. Mj is very chemically complex and the cannabinoids found in it interact with each other in ways that are still poorly understood, due to the fact that it’s a Schedule 1 drug – so research (in the US and many other countries) s difficult. One of the other important compounds in it, cannabidiol (CBD) helps lower the effects of THC and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Marionol has no CBD, as far as I know.

    there’s another drug – a tincture called Sativex – that’s legal in some European countries and is in testing here. (The Feds have actually allowed the drug company to have a Schedule 3 exemption for their grow – yes, they grow – testing, manufacturing, etc.) The problem is… per many MS patients who were involved in the clinical trials in the UK, home-made tinctures are far more effective. Whatever’s being done in the manufacture of Sativex, it’s likely that

    – the drug company’s strain of mj isn’t working for a lot of people

    – it might be having too many of the cannabinoids stripped out when they refine it and manufacture it

    Honestly, there’s a group in Israel – government-sponsored – that’s developed a strain that has such a low THC to CBD ratio that it can be used and there’s literally no high. It’s especially meant for people who must stay mentally alert at jobs or at other tasks. The same group has also bred what’s rumored to be a strain with an incredibly high THC content, for cancer patients who are in severe pain.

    I think that if mj was at very least downgraded to Schedule 2, a lot more research could be conducted in this country and that would make a *huge* difference to current and potential medical patients. Every strain (and there are hundreds) is different, and more high-CBD strains can be created.

    Like you, I have a deep revulsion for the cartels. But I fear that, as recreational legalization advances, Big Tobacco is going to be doing much the same as the irresponsible guerilla growers that you’re talking about. There are growers in your area who don’t do what you’re talking about – in fact, it’s anathema to many. Those who do engage in pillaging the land in that way should be facing serious criminal charges for that alone, imo. (“That” = destroying the earth, contaminating the water table, cutting down native vegetation without regard for the natural environment, etc. etc. etc.)


  5. Chronic pain can muddle reality, too, in a different way. I know from experience. It can alter moods and damage relationships in very destructive ways. If the judicious use of marijuana helps some people to decrease such mind muddying pain, then it should be taken advantage of…

    I, on the other hand, also know from experience that marijuana exacerbates my innate tendency toward paranoia, and so I stopped using it decades ago. Also, I couldn’t justify my involvement as a consumer in a business that was so violent. People in Mexico are still getting killed so that Americans can get high. To speak in a non-Christian idiom, it just seemed like bad karma to me.


  6. I’ve read that the locals in Marrakesh and other Moroccan cities were really kind of shocked at the way Beat writers (Allen Ginsberg, et. al.) used the local mj and hashish. Moroccans want a low, continuous buzz that doesn’t impair their ability to function; Americans and Europeans smoked their brains out – to the locals, that was serious overindulgence and frowned upon. (Also somewhat baffling to many.)

    “You Americans are just like the Irish! You drink as much as you can as strong as you can, to get as drunk as you can as fast as you can.”
    — Italian priest to American seminarians who balked at wine


  7. Just a note on Pot-Luck: Quakers refer rather to a Pitch-In, along with their referring to First Day rather than Sunday or Fifth Day rather than Thor’s Day, etc.


  8. Good point. Part of the “entry” may very well be an entry into criminal, ie risky, behavior… entry into the underground black market… entry into a whole new group of friends / associates who are willing to engage in criminal behavior.


  9. I live on the southern edge of the “emerald triangle” in N. California. I’d like to believe legalization would put the cartels out of business, but the climate makes it too easy to grow here, and too easy to hide (for a while anyway) on public lands. I think the mass production will continue unabated, and might even get worse, in order for the profit margin to be maintained as the price drops.

    My husband is a federal employee and has been involved in cleaning up after cartel marijuana grows in the forest. It’s an ecological nightmare. Streams are dammed for the water, and the fish habitat is destroyed. Diesel fuel for the generators gets spilled all over the place, and lots of chemical fertilizer is used, further harming the soil. The amount of litter and human waste left behind is incredibly disgusting. Beyond that, if you simply want to go for a hike in the woods, you’re taking your life in your hands; plenty of people get rifles waved at them, and at the height of the outdoor growing season someone get shot.

    I don’t care if someone wants to grow a few plants for personal use. I work in the medical field and know that medicinal pot actually does help about 5 percent or so of cancer patients cope better physically. Marinol (synthetic, prescription) can help a chunk of those people, too, but not everyone; some need the real deal. I think medical marijuana should be tested to find the correct dosage for each delivery medium, and be prescribed and dispensed just like any other drug, through pharmacies. Medical use is the lowest priority for our local law enforcement – they basically ignore it – but way more people have medical cards in our county than can possibly be legitimately helped by it.

    My two cents from the front lines.



  10. But when recreational marijuana is the issue, as it is in Colorado, then it seems more appropriate to compare it to alcohol.


  11. Didn’t Internet Monk have a posting about Prohibition titled “When Christians Won the Culture War”?


  12. “Rastafarians: Any religion whose main sacrament is marijuana is going to get very weird very fast.”
    — overheard on local Christian AM radio in the Eighties


  13. Big Tobacco is ready to pounce once legalization starts trending. Prices will come down, but there will be whole new headaches, what with tobacco companies trying to develop a monopoly, patent seeds and plant genetics, and much more.

    Pharmaceutical companies will also be leading the charge, because they want to lock down the medical side. How dare people grow their own medicine?! is going to be the battle cry… Or, there’s gold in them thar buds.


  14. Another thing…the comparison of marijuana to alcohol probably needs to stop. A comparison to aspirin or similar may be more appropriate.


  15. “How will, and how should people of faith respond to this change?”

    Allow me, a young 28 year old, to make some predictions. For background, I have many friends who use marijuana, either hardcore (“stoners”), casually, or for legitimate medical concerns (such as PTSD or chronic pain). My own experience with marijuana is extremely limited, but I can recognize the smell anywhere. I also largely hang out in evangelical and IFB circles.

    Generational Differences – For the most part, this will be a generational thing. Many people’s minds are made up, one way or another, and legalization or church sanctioning won’t change anything. Nor will appeals to Scripture have much effect, not when handy excuses like “you are just looking to condone your sin” are available. By this point, marijuana has become a black and white issue, even more so than alcohol for many still is. It’s use is a SIN, period.

    God’s Healing – There will always be a subset of the church that view using any form of man made medicine as a sin or evidence of lack of faith in God and His miraculous healing. A question I’ve heard before from many is “When you have a headache, do you turn to aspirin or pray first?” Many get around the cognitive dissonance by saying it was always God who healed, he just used aspirin to accomplish that task…but of course it would have been worthless without praying and trusting in God first. This position will always be a minority (“narrow is the way”, right, HUG?).

    Pastors/Leaders – To paraphase a question I’ve heard, how would you react if you saw your pastor or knew your pastor smoked weed? There is no mention of marijuana or pain relievers in any passage about qualifications of elders, yet what would the world let alone the weaker brother think? I already know people who refuse to go to a church where the elders/pastors/basically anyone in authority drink alcohol because they immediately “lose all respect” for that person. This will be more of the same. Would you leave your church if you found out your pastor either medicinally or recreationally smoked marijuana? How can a church or elder maintain “their testimony” if it’s known they smoke marijuana?

    Church Government/Discipline – Can a corporate church body kick a member out for refusing to abstain? Will this be a new footnote in church constitutions? How about separation? Should believers separate from others who don’t abstain? Will churches now advertise as being a place free from weed, just adding to the long list of qualifiers?

    There are many questions and few answers, and it will probably be decades before we start seeing any real change. For all the harm the 70s and 80s caused the church, those of us who grew up in the 90s and 00s are starting to realize the previous errors and make some changes.


  16. i feel that there should be a general amnesty for all who were/are in ail for possession, small grows, and larger grows for medical purposes, or mainly so.

    There probably are people whose underworld ties (cartels, large gangs like the Bloods and Crips) are a different story, but… what if people had been imprisoned during Prohibition for getting caught with a flask? There were even outs in federal law for people to produced home-made wine and beer during that time. Necessary ingredients were sold in grocery and hardware stores. That;s how some of the big bootleggers got started, but most people just did it for themselves and friends/neighbors.

    it’s the same thing, I think.


  17. Stuart B – oof! I hope your doc is keeping a good eye on your liver for possible damage from Ibuprofen…


  18. Radagast – yeah, I hear you.

    sinsemilla = “without seeds” in Spanish. Female flowers that haven’t been pollinated.

    All I can recall back then are leaves and stems. I didn’t know what the flowers looked like until a couple of years ago!

    Smoking *anything* while driving is (imo) dangerous. I nearly got into a few accidents due to my distracted driving while smoking cigarettes, back in the late 70s-early 80s. That was my big “vice,” and certainly one I’m glad to be rid of!


  19. Or that feeling I get in the middle of an intense gout attack when I’m taking 5-6 ibuprofen at once 3x a day just to manage pain.

    We should make cortisone available in some over the counter form, it’s amazing…


  20. “entry drug” is interesting, because if it’s legalized, it’s not an entry drug. Arguably aspirin is an entry drug until it proves ineffective.

    And how many who have a criminal past that started with marijuana would actually have a criminal past if marijuana was legal?


  21. numo,

    Actually I was kind of bringing up memories of my youth, I toked for a couple of years and stopped when weed in my area transitioned from Columbian gold to Hawaiian and synsimilian (sp) aka… high grade and high priced… around the late seventees. So… the comments were meant more light-heartedly – but truthful based on my personal experience just the same..


  22. I was much more worried about the “sorcery” thing, given my adolescent dabbling in esoteric spiritual things (though none that were overtly evil in intent; Americanized versions of Eastern practices of all sorts were a *huge* thing in popular culture, after all).

    So was the desire to see the infinite, even God, through LSD and other hallucinogens.


  23. Eating/drinking is about the so-called “body stone” (muscle relaxant and pain relief). That’s very different than the so-called “head high” that many people seek.

    I need the body effects, so I choose accordingly.


  24. It can be compounded that way, yes, and many take it in that form (like the relative I mentioned way upthread). It can also be compounded as a tincture (in either a glycerine or alcohol base – this was a common med in both the US and Western Europe until the big wave of anti-mj legislation hit in the 1930s). It can also be made into concentrates of various kinds (especially helpful for many people with severe pain, MS, etc.), infused in olive oil or butter, used in cooking, made into a drink with hot milk, and many other things besides.

    Eating/drinking is much harder to regulate per dosage, though, and the medical effects take much longer to start (at least an hour, sometimes two). However, the helpful effects last *much* longer (up to 8 hours in some cases) than when it’s taken by inhalation. But it’s *very* easy to take too much this way, so one has to work to find out the optimal dosage.

    Inhalation (i use vapor, not smoke) helps *fast*; but doesn’t last long. This is also true of tinctures – a few drops under the tongue hits passes the blood-brain barrier quickly.

    Any pharmacist who’s trained in compounding medicines can make up these preparations – and believe me, they used to! There’s a thriving trade in old mj tincture bottles, along with those of patent medicines, on the collectibles market. There are even sites with photos of bottles, labels, etc., and scans of antique medical pamphets.


  25. “shaky and anxious,” that is.

    Not a nice feeling, and is one that I also get from low-dose opioid pain meds. *Not* something I want to experience if I can possibly avoid it!


  26. Rene – sorry for misreading your previous comment – and I can’t even begin to imagine re. weed tourism in “the ‘Dam” and other cities.

    High-THC strains have been available for many decades (here, a lot of them came over as a result of American military involvement in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand), and more have come/are coming due to the war in Afghanistan. but those strains are mainly cannabis indica, and it has a very calming, soporific effect, for the most part. (Am sure you know that already!)

    The Dutch genius for horticulture has come into (pardon the pun) full flower in the cannabis industry; it’s true here as well, with people breeding for color (dark blues, reds, purples) as well as medical and psychoactive effects

    I do not use any sativas or sativa-dominant hybrids; they’re not helpful for pain relief in my case, and they can make me shay and anxious. The truth is, I think I got all of the “getting high” aspect of it out of my system in the 70s, when I was a teenager – ditto for drinking to get drunk.

    I’ve read that the locals in Marrakesh and other Moroccan cities were really kind of shocked at the way Beat writers (Allen Ginsberg, et. al.) used the local mj and hashish. Moroccans want a low, continuous buzz that doesn’t impair their ability to function; Americans and Europeans smoked their brains out – to the locals, that was serious overindulgence and frowned upon. (Also somewhat baffling to many.)

    I think that in places where mj is used as a medicine (much of the Indian subcontinent, in the Caribbean , Africa, etc.) people have a whole different attitude to it. Sure, there’s abuse by some, but most people just don’t indulge the way people from Europe and the US and Canada do. They know it’s not healthy. 😉


  27. Radagast, I hear you, but a lot of people don’t smoke and drive, or do the other things you talked about.

    Not everyone is careless; not everyone wants to use mj on more than occasional basis. You’re talking about people with abuse problems, many of them quite young, who develop a habit of being constantly “medicated.” That’s abuse to me, no ifs, ands or buts.

    If it wasn’t the j, it might well be a beer can or flask that they drop while driving. (And so on.)


  28. I though that went without saying?! It was already there in 70s sermons and screeds linking mj use with sorcery.

    In the 70s, I was more concerned about the sermons & screeds linking D&D with sorcery and witchcraft. (Though we did have two stoners in the campus D&D club for overlap…)


  29. Can’t you use cannabis in pill form? For medical purposes, I mean. I have heard that it is available for chemo patients to treat the nausea that keeps them from eating. Perhaps Christians should react in the same way they would react to folks taking opiates for severe pain. Both are addictive. I heard Gov. Jerry Brown on TV explaining that he did not support the lproposition in Calif. As governor he had to review all parole applications and marijuana was an entry drug for many of the applicants.


  30. Numo, when I compared cannabis to alcohol, I meant just what you say above: there are many who use it wisely and without much trouble. Some get hooked though and there is a small chance of even worse outcomes (like psychosis).

    Also, the strength of Dutch cannabis is mainly a problem for unsuspecting tourists who are not used to it!

    As for medical use, if taken wisely and with proper medical guidance, that shouldn’t be a problem.

    Regarding the question posed above by Chaplain Mike, we’ve had legal cannabis for ages and overall, it seems to work, more or less. Although most christian political parties here (yes we have those!) are against legalized soft drugs, they are pragmatic about it. Criminalizing all potheads just doesn’t work.


  31. Martha, in the state of Colorado the demand for “legal” pot has driven the prices up to $500 per ounce, almost 5 times the price of the illegally obtained product. Stop the illegal trade? No, it will invigorate it because the product is now legal, even if the illicit sales are still prosecuted in court.

    Also the demand will outstrip the legal growers’ ability to provide, encouraging the illegal importers even more.


  32. The real danger though, is dropping the doobie while driving… first reaction is to go looking for it… which tends to be a problem while in traffic….second problem is that overwhelming urge to pull into the McDonald’s and binge…. third problem is …darn what was I talking about?…. fourth problem…motivation begins to go out the window….love the commercial a few years back about the 30’s something guy who was saying pot did not affect him at all, and then you hear his mom yelling down the stairs for him to get a job while he and his buds are trying to get rid of the smoke… quite hilarious and close to the mark from my experiences….


  33. I like clearheaded reality, too – very much so! Medical mj is far less reality I impairing for me than garden variety prescription opioids, which I sometimes have to use for pain management. I’ll take the mj any day over highly addictive opioids, although I occasionally need them.

    Moderation is crucial. I am under a doctor’s supervision and very careful about *all* meds, not just medical mj. Opioids scare me, to be honest.


  34. Many of the people showing up in ERs already have undiagnosed/underdiagosed – and untreated – mental health problems, and yes, cannabis can exacerbate that *in some people.* the problem lies mainly in the need for better mental health screening and treatment, imo.

    There are many different varieties of cannabis, and some definitely are more likely to cause paranoia and severe anxiety in some people. There are other strains that rarely, if ever, cause such problems. I don’t wish to downplay this, but your statements need some context.

    As for your quitting and staying clean, that’s great! I’m truly glad for you, because I can’t deny that your experience is very real. But it isn’t the case for all people, occasional users, daily med mj users, etc. There really are differences in kind and degree.

    All the best to you,


  35. I don’t disagree with some of what you say, but I do think you’re treating all who use cannabis as if they use it in the same manner, pattern, frequency, etc. etc. and that makes for a skewed picture. How about all Dutch beer drinkers – do they all become alcoholics? If that seems absurd to you, then you might try extrapolating to your statemen s re. mj users.

    Good cannabis – the flowers especially – has *always* had a high THC content, but

    – until recent decades, most people were not getting dried buds, but leaves and stems

    – Dutch law has allowed for the development and sale of better plants, but that’s been true (albeit largely illegal) in the US and Canada as well

    – there are many different hybrids with different qualities; many are quite mild

    – THC is only one chemical compound in cannabis; some of the others, like CBD (cannabidiol) ameliorate the effects of THC and are naturally I occurring antiinflammatory substances. High-CBD strains for medical users are actively being bred/developed in a number of countries, including Israel and Canada. Psychoactive effects are neither desired nor welcomed by many medical users… Although that aspect can be very helpful for those in severe pain (cancer patients), with severe nausea and/or severely impaired appetite for food – as with my relative who survived mainly because they were able to use cannabis for just that reason. Their brain is fine; they suffered no lasting damage.

    I am aware that many people who already have mental health problems should not use cannabis, but that is *not* the same as the European media hype re. so-called “cannabis psychosis.”

    There are good, reliable sources of information that counterbalance what you’ve said here, and they need to be taken into account. It seems you are for banning, and while I respect your opinion, I cannot in good conscience agree. If you check my other comments in this thread, you’ll see that I am by no means saying that it’s safe for everyone. All drugs – very much including alcohol – need to be approached wit!h caution.

    And … Drugs like aspirin, acetominaphen and ibuprofen can cause severe damage to the body – even death – if taken without regard for recommended dosages.


  36. I remember someone saying that years ago — that current strains of pot have been bred for decades to maximize THC levels, that your average boo these days is many times as potent as in the Sixties.


  37. Long-time faithful member of the NAACP — Not Attending Anywhere Christian Potsmokers. And now, back to the Allman Brothers, who take me closer to God than any other mortals.


  38. I have a son-in-law who might STOP talking after smoking up…

    Adam, I think the cost of treatment will be far less than has been the cost of enforcement to society. Usage will spike in the first few years, then the majority of folks will settle back into a reasonable situation. BTW, many jobs will still demand a zero tolerance situation and driving impaired will still be illegal.


  39. Radagast said, ” It puts a barrier between you and reality and reality is far better.”

    That is so true, Radagast. All of your comment is so true. People are not getting the info about the dangers. The THC level is so high in much of today’s marijuana that many people are showing up in emergencies having major anxiety attacks. I know that it has been useful for people with some health problems, but Marinol can address many of those problems as well. It, too, can have side effects, though.

    I smoked pot off and on for ten years from 1971 to 1981. I am not proud of it. I made some poor decisions because of it and had some paranoid reactions. Finally, I realized I was feeling much better when I was “straight” and I stopped. The whole time I was using I knew that it was wrong. I didn’t deceive myself into thinking that I was doing a good thing. I was very influenced by my peers and I really wish I had never used. I didn’t go on to more serious drugs but a number of my friends did.


  40. Numo, your statement ‘Cannabis has many medical benefits, it is not addictive, it does not cause psychosis. That said, it can make some people anxious, and it’s not for everyone’ is a bit too optimistic. In my country (the Netherlands) it has been legal to buy cannabis for personal use for decades. This means there’s quite a bit of research around concerning the effects. There is an increased risk for psychosis in regular users!

    As a science journalist, I read regular updates on the medical use. Results vary between studies, and there does not seem to be a very consistent outcome. This does not mean it can’t work in specific cases.

    Overall, in the Netherlands the risks of marihuana use are beginning to show. Indeed, it is not good for the brain (memory and concentration problems in long term users). A confounding factor is that many people with psychiatric disorders may use it to self-medicate, and this makes it hard to find if cannabis is the cause or the result of certain disorders.

    As for addiction, regular uses can become to some degree dependent. Heavy users find it difficult to stop and can experience withdrawal symptoms. I’d say it can certainly be addictive.

    Overall, the negative effects seem to be in the same league as alcohol. But in churches, it is not (even after so many years of legalized use) accepted at the same level.

    If you want to know about the Dutch drugs policy, check Wikipedia ( or official government pages ( You do need a clear head to understand all of it though!

    One more thing: a consequence of the fact that people are allowed to grow a few cannabis sativa plants for personal use is that the Dutch weed has been getting sronger over the last decade or two, making the THC concentration so high, it is now regarded as dangerous!


  41. In other words, people who self-medicate are going to do it regardless, unless/until they decide to seek help and quit.

    Alcoholism can destroy one’s mental and physical health in truly devastating ways; occasional mj use doest even begin to compare.

    Seems that even though we can laugh at “Reefer madness,” its message is still very much with us.

    Better, more comprehensive and more widely available psychiatric screening and care would do *far* more to alleviate the problems of those driven to self-medicate than banning mj or alcohol ever could. If anything, mj prohibition has given it a cachet it wouldn’t have otherwise; it’s become a rite of passage mainly because of being forbidden.


  42. P.S.: it also is helpful in relieving severe nausea and dizziness, lowers ocular pressure in glaucoma patients, helps MS patients with pain/spasticity, and was a staple of palliative care and day to day survival for AIDS patients here, prior to the introduction of anti-retroviral meds.

    People in many parts of the world still find it front and center in treating nausea, the pain from childbirth and menstrual cramps, and much more. Even hemp root – which contains no THC – can be made into an antiinflammatory topical ointment.

    As for barriers to reality, yes – if you indulge a whole lot for the sake of indulging. But that’s equally true of alcohol – more so, i’d say.


  43. Paranoia has a lot to do with the effects of different strains. Powerful sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids seem to be the culprits in most incidents, while indica’s/indica-dominant hybrids are more likely to *not* cause such problems.

    When people become better-educated – and aren’t buying on the street – my guess is that such incidents will drop off in number. My one terrible experience with what I now believe to have been PCP-laced weed was terrifying and had long-lasting effects. It was enough to put me off it for more decades than i’ll admit to here, and making the decision to attempt medical use was not a light one on my part.

    As I said earlier, it’s definitely not for everyone.


  44. I can’t say that I see overanalyzing the meaning of a chair or laughing at stupid things lead to overall stupidity or a greater inclination for stronger, more dangerous drugs, though they do seem to point to the follies of youth.

    However, I *do* agree that some people will seek harder, infinitely more scary and damaging substances, especially if they’re in situations where others are using things like cocaine.

    Still, occasional mj use doesn’t lead inexorably toward such destruction, and I personally know of more than a few people with severe chronic pain who’ve kicked addiction to Oxycontin and other big gun-type opioids due to being able to transition to medical mj.


  45. I though that went without saying?! It was already there in 70s sermons and screeds linking mj use with sorcery. (Due to hugely messy errors in understanding NT Greek plus people wanting to terrify kids into saying the sinners’ prayer…)


  46. Not to mention the disproportionately higher arrest and imprisonment rates for black and Latino folks…


  47. Hug, that sounds about right; sadly I’ve known a lot of both kinds of “life forms” (most who abused both pot and alcohol, incidentally, which adds a layer to the conversation about “gateway” drugs), several whose drug or alcohol abuse killed them. I’m not at all cavalier about the dangers of either, probably the reason I’ve managed to abstain all these years.

    Yet in my experience, alcohol has seemed to have the larger potential for harm, both to the users and those around them. I’ve seen “mean potheads,” but they were meaner drunks. Stoned drivers might fall asleep behind the wheel or run off the road doing 10 mph, but I personally haven’t seen them as reckless as drunk drivers (I’m not endorsing either option).

    Abuse of any substance is the problem, and I’m all for addiction education and warnings and whatever else we can generate as a society to help people make good choices and be aware of danger signs. But I just can’t get worked up about casual marijuana use anymore.


  48. I hope the cartels die from this, but I can’t help but wonder if they can’t simply shift their operation over to similar, possibly even more dangerous, products.


  49. Talk-show host Dennis Prager came to a similar conclusion. He spoke of druggies whose habit “hit the pause button” on their lives, like their development was time-stopped until they sobered up. He said that this happened in cases of full-honk alcoholism and heavy pot use as well, but both alcohol and pot could vary considerably; only the heavy regular users of both had their lives “on pause” from the drug. This seemed to indicate that both pot and alcohol do not necessarily lead to addiction crowding out everything else, and that the serious potheads are the pot equivalent of serious alcoholics. (I once knew an artist who ended up a marijuana-based life form, as I once had a neighbor who was an alcohol-based life form. And though I’ve heard of “mean drunks”, I’ve never heard of a “mean pothead”, at least when high.)


  50. Vega,

    Having been there and done that… aside I guess from those who use it for pain… its just one more hang-up that you don’t need in your life. It puts a barrier between you and reality and reality is far better. Unlike alcohol, where if you catch a buzz you relax and enjoy, pot can cause you to be paranoid, introverted, laugh at stupid things, over-analyze the meaning of things like a chair and its relevance in the universe. It also can cause lung cancer, and yes… I am going to say it folks… lead to other drugs. Again, been there done that.


  51. +1.

    Lots of implications for our prison population too. Life in prison for marijuana violations, while violent criminals are released early?


  52. Humanism began as a CHRISTIAN movement in the Late Medieval period. It was an attempt to restore balance to the going theology of the period which emphasized the Spiritual to the exclusion of the Physical, the Divine to the exclusion of the human.


  53. I have a hard time believing anyone voluntarily drinks purely for the taste, or tradition, or social aspect of it, without deriving any physical benefit. One doesn’t need to get a buzz or sloppy drunk to feel a physical or emotional bit of relaxation with alcohol. So I am inclined to treat alcohol and pot as “morally equivalent” in that sense.


  54. And in my experience, the Biggest Fans of the War On Drugs (besides Rush Limbaugh and DEA agents) were (you guessed it) CHRISTIANS.


  55. Here in southern California, I know many Christians who use medical marijuana and they claim it has greatly improved their quality of life. One woman I know worked for awhile in a doctor’s office that specialized in providing the required medical recommendation needed to buy and use medical marijuana. At first she thought it was just a scam to enable kids to smoke weed. After seeing a constant stream of disabled veterans, cancer patients, and people who suffer from chronic pain, whose livers were destroyed by opiate based pain killers, she told me that she now sees some real value in it. I know Pastors who have acquired it to give to terminally ill church members. I know several Christians who grow to supply local Collectives and support their families this way. It is not widely talked about in order to avoid offending others in the church, but it appears so far to be a non issue.


  56. I wrote some thoughts further down in this thread, but you can easily get a range of thought/opinions from medical users if you do a bit of Googling… Everyone’s experience is different, though there are definite commonalities.

    And some people find that it doesn’t help… Sad, because they’re often the ones who are most in need of relatively benign relief. (Without potential opioid addiction or vicious side effects from other prescription drugs.)


  57. Actually, that brings up a good question. What of those people who take it as prescribed medicine for various symptoms? That is a different issue than recreational use. And, it looks like medicinal use will probably be approved before this century is long gone.


  58. I would love to see us help put those cartels out of business completely. So many people – in Mexico and here – have suffered because of them.


  59. As a regular pot user, I would like to address some of the so-called detrimental effects of the drug.

    Many people claim that… .

    I’m sorry…what was the question?


  60. There’s a lot of controversy re. that, partly because it’s almost impossible to do proper research into it.

    Most tobacco smokers are using enough -and inhaling enough – that serious damage just happens. Most recreational mj users aren’t doing that? Even so, I think there are very real risks involved, and refuse to smoke the stuff.

    I think a clearer picture will emerge in time, but long-term studies take time, and they won’t get underway until the government takes my off the Schedule 1 list.


  61. A lot of medical users are conscientious about eating healthy food when hungry from my, but even the “healthiest” thing can be subject to overuse.

    To me, this really is much like Paul’s example of eating meat sacrificed to idols, or not.

    Plus one more thing: some people truly do have an mj abuse problem. That doesn’t = physical addiction, but it requires much the same approach to getting and staying clean. But physical cravings aren’t really a part of it, unlike alcohol and other truly addictive substances.


  62. I probably won’t try weed if it gets legalized here in South Carolina, but I wouldn’t smoke it if I did. I assume that smoking weed carries the same potential health problems that smoking tobacco does, yes?


  63. Emotional maturity. Putting aside a genetic tendency towards addiction to certain thing, that is the key to the consumption of pretty much anything, be it alcohol, weed, or even unhealthy food. I’ve never had weed or alcohol, but I know that there are some not incredibly healthy foods that I just can’t resist consuming in giant quantities if they are available, so I stay away from those. However, there are some unhealthy foods that I can eat in reasonable amounts, so I do on occasion treat myself to those. It is all about self-control and knowing how you handle certain things. Just because something can cause problems if misused does not mean it should be illegal. I firmly believe in allowing people to make their own choices on such things.


  64. As for your limits, and the feel of mj, I can’t compare the latter to alcohol, because it’s very different. Per the former, the only person able to figure that out is you, if you ever make the choice to try it – and i’m by NO means saying you should.

    However, if you do, you might afterwards find yourself wondering what all the fuss was about (both negative and otherwise).

    I personally get bad side effects from opioid pain meds that have been prescribed for me, including anxiety.other people who are using the same meds have to wrestle with the high they experience. A lot depends on how each person’s body metabolizes a given med/drug.


  65. Have you ever been to Europe? In many countries, the attitude toward “soft” alcohol is more mature than is the case in the US.

    Also, a lot of effects that people associate with mj are actually caused by smoke inhalation. Vaporization is a whole other experience. I don’t smoke anything, though I *was* addicted to cigarettes back in the day.

    Vaporization has the advantage of not producing smoke. And many medical mj use is in other forms altogether – in food, infused in olive oil or butter, in a tincture, etc.


  66. That’s my question, too. Sure, some people drink alcohol for the purpose of getting drunk, but supposedly Christians who drink should avoid drinking so much as to get drunk. It seems to me that smoking pot for the purpose of getting high is the moral equivalent of intentionally drinking with the intention of getting drunk. Perhaps alcohol is a riskier substance to abuse than marijuana, but if one is not drinking to that level, I don’t know that the two substances should be treated equally from a moral standpoint. Comparing an alcohol “buzz” to a pot “high” is not something I would be able to do since I do not have any experience with pot.

    On a related note (speaking of the pleasure of the thing, separate from the “high”), I sincerely dislike the smell. I walked though a cloud of secondhand pot smoke generated by my neighbor. I also hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but most poeple nowadays seem to smoke outdoors, so that’s not so big of an issue for me at private social events. I wonder if many people will prefer pot smoking indoors when legalized private use becomes ubiquitous. If so, that may put a damper on social events for non-smokers like me.


  67. Also, you can easily figure out how to get a nice buzz -equivalent to your 1/2 glass of wine – without imbibing heavily.

    It’s a question of judgment and, imo, knowing your limits. Both require emotional maturity.

    It’s weird to be like some kind of stoner guru when I am SO not like that! If you saw me, you’d never guess, but then, it really is a med for me. The other effects can be pleasant, but also annoying, if you want to have some pain relief but stay clearheaded.


  68. Well, for one, smoking’s only one way of taking it. But it’s a social thing – the whole “ritual” aspect plus sharing is very real.

    There are many, many different varieties as well, and more than a few pot snobs (like wine snobs) in this world, believe me!


  69. I am old enough to have partaken during the early 70s, and got some bad weed, once. It put me off it completely.

    Lots of grandparent-age people are leading the charge, because the older you get, the more need for pain (etc.) relief.

    Plus, you guys are less likely to have negative images of mj users as good-for-nothing stoners…


  70. Pot is often plagued by overeating, too. You can expect the smoke-ins to be followed by pig-outs.


  71. This topic is a sign of the times, good for having some fun. Once you set my mind on the signs of the times, I can’t get away from broader things. I’m going to give a link to “The Spiritual Condition of the Contemporary World” written by Nikolai Berdyaev in 1932( www Its basic premise is that we humans have lost sight of service to each other, but rather to idols. He’s saying things not on the radar of the large majority of Christians, and probably would stir quite a lot of kickback from them. He’s saying we lost the value of faith quite long ago, and are now losing any humanism. Christians are suspicious of humanism, so for that I would direct all to Dr. Roger Olson on the subject of Christian humanism. Berdyaev’s position is a slippery slope one that speaks to the issue of this post but is in reality so much more.


  72. I agree with you, however I am several decades younger than most iMonk commenters. I find it interesting that there seems to be such an age disparity in supporters marijuana legalization versus the opponents. I think it shows quite clearly how the Christian right thoroughly crushed the ideas of the hippie counterculture during the developmental time of many of the older people here.


  73. I have a question about recreational use of marijuana.

    I am tolerant of drinking alcohol for pleasure — I do myself from time to time. The pleasure comes from the taste and the ritual of relaxation with half a glass of wine; the pleasure would cease if I drank enough to get drunk, dizzy, queasy, stupid, etc. My impression of recreational pot users, though, is that the pleasure comes from the high, not the substance itself. Is the actual smoking of pot, regardless of the effect, a pleasant thing? Or do pot smokers only seek the effect? If so, how can pot be used in moderation without affecting judgment, behavior, etc.?


  74. you bet re. common use for chronic pain, etc. it’s everywhere, yet there’s a conspiracy of silence about its use due to its legal status.


  75. you better believe that this will help drastically reduce Mexican cartel incursions into the US! I think it should be legalized for medical use across the board.

    and far fewer people will end up with contaminated mj they’ve bought on the street. A lot of it is cut with very harmful substances to make it look more appealing.


  76. “The science” is largely being ignored – the *real* science.

    Cannabis has many medical benefits, it is not addictive, it does not cause psychosis. That said, it can make some people anxious, and it’s not for everyone.

    But… a very close relative came out of a 6-week medically-induced coma looking like a skeleton. they were not hunger. Thank God they lived in a state where this stuff is legal for medical use. It restored their appetite (and was taken compounded into capsules – there are many methods of delivery that don’t involve smoke). They gained weight, and they are alive and reasonably well now, almost 8 years after their ordeal.

    Myself, I find that it helps chronic pain quite a bit; also that it’s not something I turn to to get high, but rather, a medicine that I can take along with the few pain relievers available to me (mostly extra-strength Tylenol, as my system will not tolerate anti-inflammatories).

    I have had chronic pain issues for years, and the only drug that did help alleviate it was banned several years ago (Darvocet).

    This substance is much safer than alcohol, though I certainly would not recommend that anyone drive while under the influence.

    As for addiction, the rate of presecription pain abuse as well as crystal meth and heroin abuse (all rampant in my rural area, meth especially) are the thing that’s most concerning to me. That’s where the money and help needs to go, because those drugs can all destroy lives – though pain meds can, of course, help lots, if used rightly.

    I have far less of a problem with this – as a recreational substance – than I do with alcohol. Yes, some people will live to get high, but for most, use is self-limiting and there is NO way one can poison oneself as is the case with alcohol. (I live near a large university which has an especially high rate of true alcohol abuse, so alcohol poisoning is not uncommon.) Rather a j or two and live, than too many vodkas and die, imo.

    I realize most people will not agree with me, and I was a strict prohibitionist myself until my legal pain med was banned. MMJ has improved my quality of life tremendously, and I am, thankfully, able to take it or leave it, though I realize that it’s not for everyone.



  77. Yeah, but I would guess that hard drugs are a far smaller percentage of the illegal drugs traded and used than marijuana.


  78. I think the key is private use, i.e. what one does in the privacy of ones own home is nobody’s business – including the church. It isn’t the church’s job to play narc, nor is it the church’s job to endorse or accommodate marijuana use. The church’s job is to make disciples and provide the means of grace through Word and Sacrament, dispensing forgiveness for those who confess their actual sins – not violations of artificial, man-made moralism. To me, this issue is the ultimate adaiphora (indifferent things). But evangelicals tend to turn trivial matters into the main issues.

    Someone here recently mentioned the church’s ignorance of gluttony. It is funny we are discussing replacing pot lucks with pot parties, when pot lucks often are plagued by over-eating.

    I would prefer for churches to stop pettling faith like a drug, i.e., “get high in the Spirit” or “try Jesus for 30 days and see if He doesn’t solve all your problems”.


  79. I think you posed a very good question: how should people of faith respond? I think the answer is to do all things in love, being mindful of the weaker brother or sister, but also showing grace for those who engage in medicinal use.

    I believe the law permits only personal, private recreational use. Use at church functions would seem to be considered public consumption, which I believe is still illegal.

    Given all of the questions regarding how legal recreational (and medicinal use) under the standing federal designation as an illegal substance, churches should stay away from it, in order to avoid the appearance of evil. Sorry if that sounds legalistic.


  80. If they think that only “21 and over” are going to be purchasing or otherwise getting their hands on the legal marijuana, good luck with that!

    From what I can see, the rising generation don’t even consider it to be a drug, anymore than tobacco or alcohol. There is probably going to be more relaxation of the laws not alone in America but elsewhere.

    But again, anyone pushing for this on the grounds of “this will stop drug dealers because they won’t have a market anymore” is not facing reality. The illegal trade in ‘hard’ drugs will continue – if prescription drugs are being abused, does anyone really think that the trade in cocaine and heroin is going to magically stop as well?


  81. Yeah I am with you on pretty much all of that.

    Single issue pot legalization zealots are the most annoying of all the single issue zealots. On the bright side, maybe this will get them to finally shut up for five minutes.


  82. CM, if your church has members under 40, and / or a high number or cancer / chronic illness patients, marijuana is all over it already. It’s just not openly talked about yet.

    No, I’m not a partaker. But apparently I’m a non-threatening presence who doesn’t show any outward “Narc!” tendencies 🙂

    In any case, I’ve stopped being shocked seeing active church members / leaders with Leave it to Beaver families in good suburban neighborhoods regularly chillin on the weed.


  83. > Pot and Hymns”?

    Start the clock; this will probably take about six months.

    > “How will, and how should people of faith respond to this change?”

    How will they? It seems as through the issue is largely being ignored.

    How should they? Start trying to figure out how to finance the drug addiction rehab and treatment centers that will be required for society to cope with the rise is addiction and related mental health issues [such as anxiety disorders and mood control problems].

    Like we do not have enough problems to deal with; this opens a whole new avenue for `missions and outreach` – both on the fools-end and for the diligent unrecognized workers of the church.

    Let nobody be bothered with reading the science – that Pot is dangerous, addictive, and that its use results in persistent cognitive deficit and is linked to anxiety disorders [making it a much more dangerous substance than alcohol, an intoxicant whose effect leave no persistent effects on any but the heaviest and most chronic users (not that alchohol is not dangerous in its own right)]. And queue the chorus of people with flim-flam science saying this is not true….


    My reaction this this – I’ll probably end of adding it to the list of issues it is simply not productive to have discussions about and is best just ignored. So maybe the silence from the church is the best choice.


  84. It will vary from denomination to denomination. I guarantee that the SBC churches in my area won’t accept it.


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