Getting Lost in the Deep Weed

I have written before on the sinfulness of recreational marijuana use. In an appendix to Future Men, entitled “Liberty and Marijuana,” I argued that the one use for alcohol that is prohibited in Scripture is a condition remarkably similar to the effects of marijuana — and to the extent that there is a distinction between being drunk and being stoned, marijuana is demonstrably worse. For more detailed argumentation on that issue, I refer you to that place. So it is a sin to get stoned.

At the same time, I have also repeatedly urged us to remember the distinction between sins and crimes. Not everything that is sinful ought to be against the law. Granted that marijuana use is sinful — although many Christians today are muddled enough to not understand that — ought it to remain against the law? I believe so.

Now I say this acknowledging that many of our current penalties for pot use have been draconian, and I believe that our “war on drugs” has been an over-reaching and very expensive joke. So in what I am arguing here, I am not urging us to maintain the status quo. At some other time, I might outline what I think the appropriate penalties might be. But for now I am interested in the politics of weed, from the vantage point of free citizens who are now on defense.

In the current climate, the way weed is being decriminalized, what we are seeing is not an expansion of personal choice, but rather a transfer of personal choice away from responsible citizens and to irresponsible ones. This is what I mean.

Suppose an employer does not want to employ potheads –whether they got their pot from a licensed retail outlet in Colorado, or from that guy in the park. The employer doesn’t care where the weed came from, he cares where the THC went. And where it went was into the body of this person who is supposed to be doing a job, a job that the employer believes (rightly) will be affected negatively by the pot.

Assume that the employer is not simply exercising irrational bigotries, but has sound reasons for his concern about likely impairment. He has a factory full of very expensive and high-precision equipment. Or he is a hospital administrator writing standards for the neurosurgeons. Or he hires airline pilots who fly passengers around the country. That pilot may be at 30,000 feet now, but that is nothing compared to where he was last weekend. Everybody fine with that? The fact that it was a Rocky Mountain legal high does not improve the safety considerations.

Before someone is tempted to dismiss this as me trying to peddle some sort of “reefer madness” thing, it is a simple medical fact that THC stays in the system. It does not do what alcohol does, which is to disappear. But whether the medical science on this is settled or not, if we were truly concerned about personal choice, we would make sure that responsible private citizens had a basis for protecting themselves and their businesses according to their own lights before doing anything like decriminalizing pot.

Anybody who thinks that the inevitable clashes that are coming between bosses and potheads are going to be decided in favor of the bosses . . . is a person who hasn’t been paying attention recently.

Principled libertarianism could argue for legal pot, and argue with equal vigor for the right of employers to sack employers for smoking dope. But the shift that our culture is going through on this and related issues is driven by licentiousness masquerading as libertarianism. And licentiousness is an approach that wants to push all the pleasure buttons in the brain, and to do so in a way that minimizes the consequences and ramifications for having done so. Since some of those consequences will naturally involve employment, one of the first things that will happen with this is that personal choice will be taken away from employers.

So we are not seeing an expansion of freedom. We are seeing it wither.

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56 thoughts on “Getting Lost in the Deep Weed

  1. And those who are most adamant about protecting cannabis users’ “rights” are the same ones who seem to be okay with workplaces that ban people from smoking even off the clock, generally with some token word about increased healthcare costs.

  2. I was wondering where I had read that excellent argument against marijuana use. Was going to ask you about it… behold! 
    Thanks for the reminder. I’ve not read anything better on that subject.

  3. Did you hear about the Christian bakers who where fined because they refused to put marijuana in the wedding cake? Me either, but give it a few months.
     
     

  4. Hey Doug, in reading your thoughts about marijuana,  I have to disagree with at least one thing in the article. You say that it is a sin to get stoned, comparable to the sin of getting drunk, and I agree. But, there is an area in between total sobriety and drunkenness for which alcohol was designed to create that was meant to bring blessing and joy. If someone were to make the sort of argument with alcohol, that you are making about the sinfulness of being stoned, to say that the reason people of all sorts drink alcohol is to enjoy the psycho-social effects it produces, which by their nature also normally lead to over indulgence, and that it is therefore sinful to drink because it increases the likelihood of getting drunk by lowering the inhibition to resist drunkeness. I would point to the fact that the solution to the sin of abuse is not absolute disuse. Perhaps for an individual who lacks the temperance to drink and enjoy alcohol without veering into drunkeness, perhaps he should never drink; fine. But, since that specific person lacks the temperance to enjoy a gift that God has given his people, does not mean that therefore no one else should either. As someone who smoked marijuana for years as an unbeliever, and as someone who post-conversion had to strive to quite smoking it (on the basis of its legality alone); I don’t feel that you are savy to the effects of smoking marijuana and not getting “stoned.” In college, many of the people going to be Doctors, Pre-Med students, or pharmacy students, they regularly smoked pot to help them study for extended periods of time. (this is not an arugment) It doesn’t compromise your mental abilties. If I drink three or four beer I feel like a retard when I try to read a technical theology book. During my last few months of struggling to quit smoking pot as new believer, my habit was to smoke pot and read the Bible, or technical commentaries and such. I know that sounds terrible, and believe me, it didn’t last too long because of the conviction of knowing that I was breaking the law. What I am saying is saying is smoking marijuana is not either total sobriety, or absolutely stoned. Sure, many people abuse it; especially people who are willing to break the law. But there is, in my opinion, a middle ground, where it has psycho-soical benefits that were created by God and to be enjoyed (assuming that is is legal). Some people cannot understand why a person would drink a brewski if their intention is not to get hammered. Such a person does not understand what alcohol was really made for. That is how I feel about marijuana as well. It just so happens that I live in a state where marijuana is illegal, and therefore I have not part of it. I concede there are all sorts of cautions that should go with its use; as is the case with alcohol. I don’t see how you could make a case that person who has drunk say two beer is in better off that someone who has smoked an equivalent. Is the difference, in your opinion NOT about the degree of influence, but the NATURE of it. I would say the nature of marijuana influence is much less forceful than alcohol. Just curious about why one in moderation puts you in a state that you say is good, and the other one, done in moderation puts you in a state that is bad. Anyhow, good Day!!

  5. Two questions: (1) Is there a big difference between libertarianism and licentiousness? I have always understood libertarianism as the freedom to be licentious without being restricted. (2) As a postmiller, should we not strive to make God’s law, the law of the land. That was Bahnsen’s case for theonomy. Where in the bible does it distinguish between sin and crime? “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

  6. Pastor, your line of argumentation there at the end surprises me. It seems like the same thing could be said by some of the “let’s ban sodas” people. Sodas cause me to pay higher insurance costs due to obesity and diabetes. Ideally the obese and diabetics would bear that cost themselves, but since that’s not gonna happen, ban on.

  7. I do think you’re overstepping here. Even if we legalize something for all the wrong reasons, it’s the legality itself at issue. I remember listening to a lecture by Greg Bahnsen where he insisted he didn’t think pornography (and I think he even specifically included child pornography as well) but vehemently insisted it’s still sinful. He also included in that lecture, I believe, the same view of drugs. Drugs and pornography are sinful, sure, but can you find any text in Scripture that proves it should be criminal? Sure we’d all agree an airline pilot on dope is super bad. I would want to know the airline’s policies on drugs first before I fly on them. But just because something is sinful and wrong doesn’t mean the government should step in. What’s the Scriptural warrant for saying it’s criminal?

  8. Seth, I think you’re missing the context for the article.  This is not a “in the ideal Christian republic” post, but rather framed by this statement:

    In the current climate, the way weed is being decriminalized

    That is, in our particular climate, is decriminalization a step forward in Christian liberty or backwards?

  9. “So it is a sin to get stoned.”  Yes, it is. 
    ” I believe that our “war on drugs” has been an over-reaching and very expensive joke. ”   Yes , it has. More than that, it has been one of the two major excuses for expansion of the centralized,  coercive, intrusive state over the past forty years.
    ” I am not urging us to maintain the status quo.”  But the status quo is what you have, apart from anything like Colorado has done.  Mind you I won’t be scheduling surgery in Colorado anytime soon, but I’ve been around drunks and I’ve been around potheads, and I’ll take the potheads – though really Coloradans  can keep both if they like.
     

  10. Justin: What difference does it make? Yes, people are trying to legalize weed because they want their licentiousness protected. But just answer this simple question: should weed be legal, period? The answer, I think, is yes. That means legalizing the use of weed is biblical, even though it is a sin to smoke weed. Now, if America is not granted repentance that will probably change (A biblical law in a  godless society won’t stand for long, because every society works out the implications of its presuppositions, and a biblical law is inconsistent with unbiblical presuppositions) but that doesn’t change the fact it’s a biblical law.

  11. I can see your concern, and I’m not arguing in favor of legalization, but to play devil’s advocate, don’t employers exercise this kind of discretion all the time when it comes to alcohol abuse?

  12. I agree that marijuana use is sinful if it yields the same effect as drunkeness.  We are told that drunkeness is sin and marijuana leaves a person in a very similar state.  The problem with these states is that it suppresses our faculties.  Also, it covers over problems that need to be dealt with.  If you keep self-medicating, you are not working through your problems.  An addiction agency in Colorodo came  out with a statement criticizing the new acceptance of marijuana, saying that it’s exacerbating the problems of society.  A  new generation has arisen that doesn’t really care. 

  13. I think it is only fair to recognize that federal law already requires that anyone responsible for safely  handling heavy equipment be tested for marijuana use.  My daughter was tested before she was allowed to operate rides at Disneyland; I was tested before working as a secretary for a defense contractor (as were all employees there, whether they swept floors or handled machinery).  Train drivers and pilots are subject to routine testing all the time.  I’m not sure whether I agree with full legalization (although I think Colorado’s approach is more honest than California’s medical marijuana law under which any patient can get a prescription for depression, headaches, poor appetite, and back pain).  But it would be possible to legalize and yet still protect the public safety.  Whether the employee in a workplace such as a retail store should also be tested at the employer’s request would, I think, require some showing that marijuana use impairs efficiency.    A factor that hasn’t been mentioned is how pot shops tend to decrease property values in their vicinity.  Los Angeles has been struggling to reduce the vast number of seedy pot operations since the law came in.

  14. One alcohol does no go out of your system right away. The degree may be different that marijuana, but that argument is not accurate. A lot of prescription drugs can stay in your system for a time as well.
    That being said, I have been looking through online personals. A woman in Washington State, where pot is marginally legal liked my profile and contacted me. Her screen name included 420. I said that I was uncomfortable about 420 to which she replied that it was for medical purposes. Maybe she really needs it, but I said to her that if she were taking insulin, she wouldn’t say that in her screen name. As you can tell, we are not going to have a date. I do believe that medical marijuana is legitimate for cancer. I have had respected Christian medical people explain it to me. It offsets chemo so you can eat. I also know that teenagers who use it have a unique danger that adults do not share. It increases the likelihood of schizophrenia.

  15. Haha, oops that comments above should have my name on it, not Justin W’s. “Justin: What difference does it make? Yes, people…”

  16. Seth B: The same difference as me not allowing my three year-old to drive my car.  Or God not allowing the Israelites to eat shellfish.  The questions of Why and Who are just as important as the What.  Imagine a nation of three year-olds asking the question “does the Bible say that the driving of cars is a crime?”  If not, it ought to be allowed, right?
    You imagine a law or lack thereof as some sort of abstract matter of justice.  What I understand Pastor Wilson to be suggesting is that there is a historical, physical context in the legalization debate.  The direction we are going on this road matters just as much (more!) than what landmarks we are passing.

  17. Justin: Plenty of things are illegal but shouldn’t be done by young children. But that’s the responsibility of the parents to decide. I know someone who’s been driving since she was 12, and a guy who’s shot guns since he was 6. I also know plenty of people whose parents were wise to never let their kids do those things at that young of an age. To be consistent with your analogy above, shouldn’t you be pro gun control, since children shouldn’t shoot guns? As far the Israelites eating shellfish, that law was done away with by the New Covenant, so shouldn’t we similarly be done away with laws against ingesting weed? At the end of the day I want a biblical view of anything to *textually controlled*. What text can Pastor Wilson show that demonstrates weed should be illegal?

  18. My point has nothing to do with whether the federal or state governments allow 3 year-olds to drive but it is right for me to do so as the head of a very small government.  I am suggesting, by analogy, that rules and laws ought to have context.  You make this statement:

     But just answer this simple question: should weed be legal, period?

    Which suggests that you think the questions of “for whom”, “when”, and “why?” are irrelevant.  So I have one for you: should an armed citizen be allowed to shoot and kill another citizen?  Period.

  19. BJ: (1) Is there a big difference between libertarianism and licentiousness? I have always understood libertarianism as the freedom to be licentious without being restricted.    //    Yes. While libertines favour libertarianism to facilitate their sin, the argument for Christian libertarianism can be made along the lines of not controlling men unnecessarily; and men are sinful including leaders thus the power we give them should be limited.    //    Concerning the first point Ballor said: “To put it bluntly, one views liberty as the freedom to do what we ought, while the other views liberty as the freedom to do what we want.” See here: http://www.cato-unbound.org/2013/05/13/jordan-ballor/avoiding-confusionism    //    Concerning the second point see here: http://bethyada.blogspot.com/2010/02/christian-libertarianism.html

  20. Seth: Even if we legalize something for all the wrong reasons, it’s the legality itself at issue.    //    Possibly, but if there are laws that should not exist it may be the order in which they are repealed that makes a difference; and removing them in the wrong order may be worse than leaving them both.

  21. bethyada, yes that’s right. But, Pastor Wilson said that not everything sinful ought to be against the law. And also, those soda jerks could point out that all they’re against (at least for now) is drinking soads to excess, which is also sinful.

  22. I wonder if you would use the same arguments for the use of prescription pain killers. I happen to be on three different types at the moment and they alter the way I feel, think, and act. Are they sinful? Is the CBD sinful or just the THC?

  23. Also, I’d be interested to know how Pastor Wilson felt about seat belt laws. I’ve heard some people argue for them like this: “Everyone ought to wear a seat belt because they save lives, BUT as a matter of personal liberty the gubbment shouldn’t make them mandatory. BUT BUT since I would have to pay either higher taxes or insurance premiums or hospital bills myself to cover that dummy in the ER who wasn’t wearing his seat belt, then I think the gubbment SHOULD make them mandatory. I’d really wish we get tort reform and whatnot so I don’t have to pay for their bad decisions, but since that ain’t happening, clickit or ticket.” I understand this line of reasoning, but something just doesn’t sit right with me about it. It’s an argument for coersion but only because non-coersion would cause a different kind of coersion upon somebody else.

  24. Doug,
    Did you mean to write “…the right of employers to sack employees for smoking dope,” rather than “…the right of employers to sack employers for smoking dope”?  Please feel free to delete this comment whenever you’d like.

  25. Josh Shelton says that marijuana doesn’t compromise mental faculties the way alcohol does. Really? That’s just anecdotal, there needs to be research on that. I associate its use(especially regular use) with general spaciness and lack of concentration. Of course I haven’t smoked it since the ’70’s so maybe it’s totally different now but my experience was visual distortion of space and objects and distortion of time AND lack of even the desire to concentrate. The effect started after two tokes. I remember taking even one step seemed to take an eternity. I could drink 4 oz. of beer in the same time as two tokes and not feel or see anything different except my face would feel a little warm. So, does a government have the right to control mind-altering substances in any way? Right now, the states have blood alcohol limits that are based on research into how much alcohol causes a certain level of  impairment. How is a state going to measure the effect of marijuana on someone’s ability to drive or on his/her judgement? Those are practical questions that need to be answered and I think the research will show that marijuana is very different from alcohol.

  26. Allie, the DUI limits are based on federal blackmail. Ifd  each state didn’t adjust their limits to California’s .08 they would lose their highway funds.

  27. jigawatt, yes Doug thinks that not every sin should be a crime, so his argument is that: to be a crime something needs to be a sin AND…. Whether Doug is correct or not, the soda analogy fails because soda does not even meet the criteria of sin (in itself; too much is gluttony but this does not relate to soda but to too much).   //   Personally I think that (private) employers should be able to hire whom they wish, and that health insurance should not be attached to employment at all.  

  28. BJ:

    (1) Is there a big difference between libertarianism and licentiousness? I have always understood libertarianism as the freedom to be licentious without being restricted.

    Yes. Licentiousness is called being a libertine.  Libertarianism is the belief that actions that do not encroach on other persons or their property should not be illegal.  You can be a libertarian and not at all be a libertine. I would argue that a Christian who rightly distinguishes between sins and crimes is essentially a libertarian and not a libertine.

    (2) As a postmiller, should we not strive to make God’s law, the law of the land. That was Bahnsen’s case for theonomy. Where in the bible does it distinguish between sin and crime? “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

    Bahnsen would have been the first to point out that there is a distinction between a sin and a crime.  Crimes have civil penal sanctions associated with them in the law of God while sins don’t. Somebody who tries to punish sin as if it were crime is trying to be wiser than God.  Even though I’m a theonomist in principle and generally agree with Bahnsen’s thesis, I would say not really.  The political climate is just a trailing indicator of the faithfulness of the church in other areas.  We should strive to make Jesus the Lord of everyone’s life.  I think that any attempt to make God’s law the law of the land today (beyond the places where it already is in the vestiges of common law) is a striving after the wind.  Plant a church; start a business; raise a family; open a school.  Don’t waste your time in the political system.  
    One should not picture some Orwellian theonomist state as the outworking of God’s law because due process for the accused is an important feature within God’s law.  The fourth and fifth amendments to the U.S. constitution are solid, thoroughly Christian, laws.

  29. Concerning seatbelts, a possible argument could be made based on the idea that driving on public roads is a privilege and government can set minimum relevant criteria, eg. speed limits, driving skill, not impaired by chemicals (alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs), seatbelts. Of course that would not be applicable on private land and roads.    //    I find the keeping costs low argument less convincing. Often socialists will propose new laws to solve a problem that arises from a current socialist law. The solution is to remove the bad law, not introduce new laws. It shouldn’t be too hard to have a health law that did not force you to pay for risks that others take.

  30. As someone who has never used marijuana, I think Josh Shelton might be on to something.  There is an important subjective aspect to how marijuana may interact with each individual. The same thing is true with many prescription drugs today.  For one person, that drug might cause severe negative side effects or death; for another person, a drug might serve an important medicinal purpose.  Doug brought up alcohol in the post. Different people have different reactions to alcohol.  They metabolize it at different rates, they have varying degrees of tolerance and ability to hold their liquor. One would need to at least consider that different people could have a positive experience like Josh related above.
    It has been about eight years since I read Future Men, but as I recall Doug has an important epistemological hurdle to clear for his main thesis, and in my opinion he doesn’t clear it.  If it were the weaker thesis of “this is not a good idea in general because this is how it affects most people” I’d accept it.  But he is making the much stronger claim of “this is categorically sinful, period” (and today adding “and ought to be illegal” as well).   I understand that the categorical checklist approach is tidier, but some things do have a real and true subjective dimension to them.  In cases like alleged “drunkenness” tidier isn’t always correct. Sometimes it’s muddled.

  31. I smoked semi-regularly for several years. If it wasn’t a sin, it was the worst non-sinful personal choice I’ve ever made. Pot affects the psyche in subtle but serious ways that the user cannot easily see in himself. I haven’t partaken in six months and feel a great deal better. Several good friends of mine are quitting as well, one after experiencing several nervous breakdowns of the worst sort, brought on immediately after smoking. 
    I urge young readers of this blog not to trust their (pot-addled) intuitions. Quit or don’t start.

  32. Ali, I can’t relate to visual distortions or any of that. I don’t suppose that marijuana would make a person who doesn’t want to concentrate, suddenly want to concentrate. But, for someone who already intends to, I found it to increase the level of concentration. As far as 4oz of beer, that is not much alcohol at all seeing as beer is about 5% alcohol. The speed of influence seems to me to be irrelevant. Just assume moderation with both substances. If both are done in moderation, what is the basis for saying that one is good and should be legal and the other is bad and should be illegal.  One thing to keep in mind in states where marijuana is illegal, is that the only people who smoke it are people who are willing to break the law; if it were legal, different sorts of people would smoke it.

  33. bethyada, I don’t think the soda analogy fails simply because soads aren’t sinful and pot is. Yes it is a distinction, but not every distinction tanks an analogy. Here’s what I’m imagining: Doug’s talking with someone (let’s say, a college student named Steve) about sodas. The college student argues for a ban on huge sodas not because they’re bad, but because when people (sinfully) abuse them then unfortunately everybody has to pay for it. I’m guessing Doug would say, “That’s a bad argument. You’re proposing a new law (banning sodas) that’s trying to solve a problem that was created by an existing bad law (socialized medicine). The solution is to remove the bad law, not introduce new laws.” [see how I quoted you here :)] Now, Steve says “Ok, Doug, fair enough”. Then later on, another student is talking with Doug about pot. Let’s call her Mary Jane. Doug says “Well, pot should be illegal not because it’s sinful (although it is) but because people would come to work stoned and employers couldn’t fire them for that due to our current laws. Now, those laws are bad and I wish they were removed so employers could fire as they wish, but that’s just how it is.” Now, Steve jumps in and says, “Wait a minute Doug. You discounted my argument against sodas for the very same reason you’re arguing against pot. We should remove the bad law and not introduce new laws right?” Doug’s a sharp guy, much more than I, but I can’t see what he could say at this point. You’re saying (correct me if I’m wrong) he might come back with something along the lines of “Because pot is sinful and sodas are not”, but that’s not the argument he puts forth in this post.

  34. How much do our employers own us? The Duck Dynasty issue brought this to the forefront. Can an employer fire you for having trace amount of alcohol in your system?  Alcohol is legal.

  35. I know this has been brought up before, but I work as an RN in a hospital. I see all kinds of drunks come in every week. I see violent drunks, liver failure drinks, driving drunks, impulsive drunks, overdosing drunks, and withdrawing alcoholics (fun fact: alcohol is the only drug whose withdrawal is potentially lethal). I have never seen anyone admitted to the hospital because they smoked too much marijuana (and we drug test for it on admission). Admissions for marijuana use are usually the result of the weed being unknowingly laced with other drugs (something that wouldn’t occur with state regulations).  The danger to the user and the cost to society are exponentially worse with alcohol than with weed. In addition, the alcohol limit of .08 is far lower than people seem to realize. I’ve met many unfortunate souls for whom 2 mixed drinks in one hour was enough to put them well above the limit (an easier mistake to make than people realize). I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you all breached the .08 definition of impaired over the holidays without even realizing it (that’s obviously not saying that you drove that way).
    I also find it strange that the “buzzed” jovial social lubricant effects of alcohol are viewed as acceptable for Christians while the lazy, hazy, taste altering effects of a joint are considered akin to wanton drunkenness. This doesn’t even address the very important medicinal effects weed could have for very sick people. Nor does this address the devastation the war on drugs has had on people in the name of ignorance and “zero tolerance”.  I’ve heard it claimed that the dosage for marijuana is to varied to consume it in moderation, but this argument is circular. The reason the dosages are confusing for people is precisely because it isn’t regulated and controlled by the state. A beer comes with an alcohol by volume label while a joint comes unlabeled from some sketchy criminal on the street. The THC levels are unknown because the government isn’t involved as a regulatory entity.

  36. jigawatt, your argument on the face of it seems somewhat reasonable, though I would suggest that the idea of banning anything non-sinful (ie. sodas) strikes me as disastrous, and Doug is probably in agreement here (as judged from previous writing) though he can give his own opinion. My response to your soda example would be regardless of the idiocy of politicians in making the cost of existing prohibitive (exorbitant unfair health costs) I am not willing to criminalise and punish these sort of activities. So the sinfulness remains an assumption in the argument, even if it is unstated.      //      The difference with marijuana relates to the fact that some sins should be illegal, intentional intoxication with cannabis is sinful (I think), thus it meets at least one criteria for it being illegal. It is complicated by the fact that it is currently illegal, thus decriminalising it may make the situation worse because of other bad law. That being said, there may be other reasons to make/ keep it illegal other than Doug’s argument above. I myself am uncertain.

  37. Swallowing camels while straining gnats is sinful, eh?   More people are arrested for marijuana than for murder, rape, and robbery combined (Libertarian Party brochure some years ago).   So decriminalize, while amending state constitutions to say “The right of people and groups to discriminate against drug users shall not be infringed,” and perHAPS punishing drug-related crimes more heavily (as gun-related crimes may be, with NRA approval, eh?)   /   /   /   /   /   /   /   “Libertarianism” in a broad sense favors a smaller government than we have now, privatizing e.g. schools, welfare, parks.   I favor this on Biblical grounds (I Sam 8, I Tim 2, Romans 13), but lots of libertarians are atheists, and it’s one thing (Biblical) to favor small government and another (prudential) to co-operate with some particular  libertarian project such as the Party.

  38. I am assuming that the phrase “marijuana is sinful” contains an implicit exception for any medically valid use that may exist (assuming such uses actually do exist.) After all, if one said “morphine use is sinful” it would have to include the caveat that we are not talking about carefully administered pain relief for genuine medical conditions, as opposed to recreation or reckless self-medication.

  39. I would assume marijuana use for medical purposes is fine, since we’ve been using pain killers and medications of all varieties for years.

  40. Jane, yes. Morphine is used medically as are amphetamines. There are medicines that stimulate cannabinoid receptors in the brain; I believe they are available in Canada. So there is no problem in using them medically. My suspicions are raised when the proponents of medical marijuana are potheads who think that the best medical formulation is a joint rather than isolating the active compound(s) and prescribing in a fixed dose.

  41. bethyada I agree, I was just giving Doug a chance to clarify if he chose. And I agree with the rest of your comment as well. It’s just that “marijuana is sin” is a rather sweeping statement that wouldn’t be made of other substances as such, so I was looking for a more careful expression to avoid confusion.

  42. I think if we were to argue against medical use of marijuana we would have to argue against all other types of medicine that work in a similar way, such as morphine.  That wouldnm’t be right.  So we havbe to admit medical use exists and is OK.  We feel it ought not to be used recreationally, since this bears a striking semblance to drunkeness, which Scripture outrightly condemns.

  43. Any argument that begins by staying “The government should…..” is already off on the wrong foot. One of the greatest problems in America today is government getting too involved as we watch freedoms erode.  By nature, all people want their views espoused and even enforced by the government (and guns if needed). Marijuana is horrible and sinful; but that doesn’t mean it should be criminal. Why should we desire a godless government made up of the depraved; to have the authority to kick down a private citizen’s door and imprison him for smoking something in his own house (whatever it may be).  The soda pop police of Bloomberg could be next.  Laws should primarily be based on whether or not they infringe on the rights of others.  And any employer should be able to set whatever standards they want regarding who to hire or fire. If they don’t want pot users, they should not be forced to hire them. For that matter if they don’t want women (or men) they should not be forced to hire them. (A blog for another day). The government needs to stay out of private lives and business; unless a person’s activity infringes on another.  As sad as it sounds, if they wish to destroy their life with things like marijuana. They should have the legal right to do so.  This is one of the by products of true freedom. The right to destroy yourself; as tragic as it may be. Incidentally, this probably makes me the only Independent Baptist preacher in America who is in favor of legalizing pot. Though I implore all not to partake of this “right.”  As was mentioned earlier, sins are not necessarily crimes. Christians need to learn this. (Lysander Spooner wrote an essay on that topic years ago that would be helpful, for those interested).

  44. Shane, I think there is a great difficulty in distinguishing between what’s infringing on other’s rights and what isn’t.  It’s sort of like when someone argues that you can’t legislate morality.  Well, the right response as I see it is that morality is the only thing we ever legislate.  Look at the ancien law codes and examine our laws today.  They all go back to basic morality.  Government will always do more then just protect private property.  It’s always about enforcing certain things and punishing other things.  Law is very comprehensive.  We have to decide whether marijuana infringes on people’s rights.  I think it does: for example, if someone smokes it and gets stoned and gets behind the wheel, they can crash into my car and kill me.  So deciding the extent of government interference is never that easy.  There are no clear cut answers for these things.  I think the reason is that it is not an exact science.  For one thing, laws have to be based upon social realities.  In a society where marijuana is potentially an issue, we need to look at how the law will respond to it. We’ve been doing that a certain way up until now.  That’s starting to change. 

  45. I don’t believe that morphine works the same way as marijuana. As I understand it, willing to be corrected here, marijuana does not affect the liver nor kidneys as most drugs do. That is why it stays in your system a little longer. Most drugs affect these organs. A major reason that doctors always have you come in for blood tests is to see if your prescriptions are hurting your kidneys or liver!

  46.  
    Jon,
    I certainly agree with you that things like these can be complex issues. But with that said, you said that someone smoking marijuana might infringe upon your rights (e.g., they drive a car while impaired and hit you). This is also true of alcohol. Shall we ban that? The fact is we already have laws against driving under the influence and public intoxication which deal with these issues. Certainly morality is legislated in most of our laws. But the real question is how much power do you wish to give the government in prosecuting your moral views? I fear, that we as Christians too often have a knee-jerk reaction to all things sinful. We scream for laws banning this or that. But the answer to society’s ills is not more governmental laws. I’m sure we would agree that the answer is a changed heart through the gospel of Christ. While I believe smoking marijuana is sinful and harmful; I don’t think there should be a governmental ban upon it. Any more than I think there should be a ban on drinking Windex, or sniffing laundry detergent. It may be stupid, but what business is that of the goverments? At least as long as a person does it in the privacy of their home. To the passing of laws there might be no end. If an idiot wishes to sit in the privacy of his living room and destroy his brain with some substance; I might plead with him to reconsider. But I do not wish to send an armed officer to kick down his door and imprison him “for his own good” or for the good of society as a whole. Of course my views are far more “Libertarian” than many Christians are comfortable with; and place me firmly in the minority. But I’m used to being in the minority. After all, I’m also a Calvinist ;-)
     

  47. Yes, it makes sense that we would not want to legislate overmuch.  At some point we’re just talking about things people need to own responsibility for and if they don’t, it becomes something they have to deal with.  Yes, I think it makes sense to limit the number of laws passed to protect people from their own stupidity.

  48. Hey Doug — just to let you know, smoking a small amount of marijuana will not make you act like Cheech and Chong. 
    Even a man of your size (no offense) would get tipsy after a couple strong pints, but not necessarily drunk. The line is a bit fuzzy. 
    To say any recreational marijuana use is sinful seems to me to be a bit hasty, and playing to your conservative audience, many of whom are probably in Bible belt communities that once (or still do) prevented any sale and much of the consumption of alcohol beverages.
    You may wish to understand marijuana a bit more before treating it as different from alcohol. Since gluttony is a sin, one not discussed as much (no offense, again, but you are a man who could serve to lead by example and get trim), we can note that marijuana itself will not pack on the pounds, being calorie-free. Even one beer is a hefty caloric commitment.
    Not trying to be pejorative, but it saddens me that gluttony is a sin we never discuss.

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