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No—It's a bad Witness

Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide (Baker), writes about pop culture for Relevant magazine and Christianity Today.

Medical marijuana is certainly helpful for people in great pain, many of whom use the drug in the same way they would use a pain reliever like codeine. The difference between codeine and cannabis is that the latter has a very distinct, largely negative image in culture—an image that carries baggage and connotations Christians must consider if they are thinking of using marijuana, even for medical reasons.

When I was in grad school, several of my colleagues smoked marijuana. I do not doubt that smoking marijuana relieved the aches and pains of my 20-something cohorts. But I wonder if "medical assistance" is the primary reason they were using it. More likely they consumed it in the way Oscar on Arrested Development did—enjoying "primo bud" under the auspices of the legal right to medical marijuana.

In California, the image of marijuana use, even for medical purposes, is mostly a joke. Pot smoking has long been associated with "slackers"—zoned out, disengaged, pleasure-seeking rebels always in search of a high. The image has even given rise to a genre of cinema: the Stoner Film. The image of those who smoke weed in these films is one of laziness, irresponsibility, and mischief.

The image of medical marijuana is not much better. Walk down the Venice or Santa Monica boardwalk in L.A. and you will be bombarded with leaflets for the dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries in town. Affable hippies even call out, "Get your medical marijuana recommendation here!" The dispensaries ...

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Should Christians Smoke Medical Marijuana?
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In the Magazine

June 2011

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