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Home > 2013 > November Web Exclusives > When Pot Is Legal, What Do We Say?

Three years ago, "Mike"—a 20-year-old newcomer to the faith—stepped into my church office. He sat down on my office couch, distressed.

"What's going on, man?" I asked. The fact that he was hiding something couldn't have been more obvious.

"Well," he muttered. "Umm … I've been smoking too much pot lately."

"Just 'too much'?" I asked with a wry, confident smile. "Listen, friend, any pot smoking is too much pot smoking. It is illegal, after all."

"Actually," he said, "it's not illegal for me. I've got my medical marijuana card."

Uh-oh, I thought.

Sure enough: he was legal. He had come by the "license to toke" fairly. He didn't lie or exaggerate to get it. We have newspapers in Portland printing advertisements from doctors: "Headaches? Nausea? Pain? Come get your prescription!" I could get a prescription if I wanted one. Two blocks from our church's sanctuary is a lucrative legal pot dispensary. There are at least a dozen more within a five mile radius.

"Just say no!" was powerless sloganeering for this fellow, especially when he could easily point to Christian drinkers. Without the "obey the law" fallback, what was left?

"Well, just because it's legal," I said, "does not mean it's profitable."

Based on new public opinion stats from Gallup, opinions about marijuana use are changing. For the first time in U.S. history, the morality scales now tip in favor of legalization. More than 58 percent of people now favor it.

If you're a Washington or Colorado pastor, you can already legally fire up a reefer at your next staff retreat. By December 1 of this year, Washington producers will be legally licensed to grow marijuana for recreational use. You can bet your life that the indoor-hydro guys will be cranking those sodium halide grow lights day and night for about three months, until the winter snows melt and their "first" legal buds are vacuum packed and priced to sell. Based on the polls, it won't be long before other states—and eventually the federal government—will follow suit.

Growing up in the 8,000-person town of Burlington, Wisconsin, I learned just how against-the-law pot can be. I've had no trouble pointing to penal terms and state statutes for herbal debates in the past. It's been a sweet moral trump card for pastors. When a red-eyed brother in Christ asks how pot is different from other substances—like alcohol—"Obey the law of the land, son," the pastor says. "Like it or not, God calls us to obey our authorities. Hooch is legal; the marijuana cigarettes are not."

Conversation over.

But the trump card is gone for many of us. Likely for all of us soon. For our neighbors and church members, there will be no more need to stash baggies above ceiling tiles to keep them hidden from mom. No more secret lingo, "420" rendezvous, or clandestine hook-ups with Mary Jane. It's possible to imagine the host of your next home community meeting happily setting a jar of pot and a glass pipe next to the bottle of merlot on the refreshments table.

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Related Topics:CultureDrugsEthicsFutureLegal Issues
Posted: November 11, 2013

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Displaying 1–5 of 17 comments

Paul Duppenthaler

November 12, 2014  4:55pm

You say, Any question related to consuming drugs must first and foremost be: 'How does this benefit my neighbor, physically and spiritually?' I like this question, but I would consider making it my second question. Perhaps my first question is, 'How does this glorify God? ie. How does this reflect God's attributes is such a way that God is magnified?'

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Alastair McQuinn

October 17, 2014  1:17pm

This is one of the sanest and convincing articles I have read about cannabis since the internet was born. I am not Christian (yet) and I do toke a little, but I was drawn by the compassionate stance, and by sentiment that I often feel myself. I don't know why I use cannabis, at least I cannot honestly say, any more than understanding why I sometimes use alcohol too. I do have occasional insights as to why, glimpses, often while using these substances, often while 'sober'. But often while sober i am not that sober either. knowing myself is not easy, who can honestly say it is? I try to follow Jesus, I have tried to follow Buddha too. What has so often put me off deeper exploration of a Christian path is a sense that I am being judged, that my path until now is inherently more sinful than it would be if I fully submitted to Christian life. This article made me feel that while I have not yet given up weed and alcohol someone understands that we cannot all be suddenly perfect.

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Terry Lee

September 02, 2014  5:28pm

You're making me think! Thanks!

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Jeremy Murphree

May 28, 2014  7:06pm

Ben I would answer your question by saying yes, if I can legally procure the correct strain of Marijuana to treat my anxiety then I can concentrate on working and become prosperous as God wants me to be. My question to the young man would have been, what ailment are you treating? If he was treating chronic pain then yes it is possible he is ingesting too much marijuana. However if he was treating lethargy, one would question what affects ingesting too much of that particular strain of the plant as well as if his response was anxiety or sleep disorders. In regards to your question regarding would Jesus take Marijuana, I think it is likely but not in a period of prohibition. Jesus did drink wine, however wine was not prohibited at that time or in that place. Jesus did not live with us to make war with the government, at all. I hope this information helps with this issue, and I do pray that this green seeded plant will become legally available soon.

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One God apparel

November 22, 2013  2:03am

I think we're to quick to judge people, that see nothing wrong with smoking a plant that neither man or the devil created. Quick to give our opinion on what we think what is good or evil, Adam & Eve's sin was eating of the tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. So even the knowledge of Good is evil. What we need to remind people is how much God Loves them, and how He sent his Son down to die a horrible death for all our sins, so we don't have to live in condemnation. We are the righteousness of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior. For how Christ is in Heaven, so are we made here on earth, made perfect through our High Priest Jesus Christ. Take the focus off Our wavering love & faith for God, and let us focus on Christ Love and Faith for us. His Love & Faith does not waver, he is perfect for us because we're not. Dwelling on Christ will guide each person to how we should live. Persecution comes from the religious not the world, Jesus proved that. My 2 cents, One God One Love Jesus

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