Saturday, March 8, 2014

Marijuana and the Christian: The Spiritual Realm

On November 7th, 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states in American history to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana. The Gallop Poll continues to prove that more and more American citizens favor the legalization of marijuana, with 58 percent in agreement, which is quite a feat when understood that when the Gallop Poll first asked the question back in 1969, only 12 percent of America favored legalization.[1] Marijuana is still illegal federally, which brings up larger issues regarding state rights vs. federal rights, but the Justice Department has publicly stated that it will not challenge the recent marijuana laws enacted by Washington and Colorado as long as they keep in line with a few, reasonable federal policies.[2] On the world stage, on December 23rd of last year, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the sale and production of cannabis[3] despite protests from the UN.[4]
 
Society is changing. One day very soon the entire nation will legalize marijuana. But right here and right now, in the state of Washington, marijuana is already legal, and this year will see many legitimate, recreational pot shops open for business. How does the Christian react? What should we tell our youth group kids, or our future congregation? Is the drug to be treated like alcohol, so that it is safe to consume in small amounts and as long as one is of legal age? Or is marijuana to be completely avoided? 


This is far from a simple issue, and much thought should go into our answer. I’d like to offer a few brief points for your consideration, and then open it up to you. If you agree, disagree, or come at it from an entirely different angle, please reply in the comments section.

Back a few years ago, there were two strong reasons to reject marijuana as a Christian. Paul calls us to obey the government, who had, until recently, decreed that marijuana was illegal (Romans 13). Secondly, we are called to be sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8). Now that weed has been legalized, the easy solution has vanished, which leaves us the command to be sober-minded. The question is then asked, can one smoke small amounts of marijuana and still be considered sober? There is no simple answer to that question, since marijuana has numerous varieties, with some strains being more potent than others. The potency is also affected by how well-grown the particular plant is, which means each gram you buy could have different levels of potency, making it hard to determine how much will actually get you high. 

Yet, it wouldn’t be that hard to argue that if someone only took a few hits from a jay,[5] he would be remain relatively sober. So, is the absolute rejection of marijuana by the Christian to be thrown out?
There is still one very important reason why one should avoid the drug, regardless of its legal status. Marijuana is a much more spiritual drug than most realize. It actually is a mild hallucinogen, which means it is similar to drugs like LSD or Mushrooms (though marijuana is much weaker). It is not like alcohol which, when abused, causes one to throw up and black out. Marijuana opens one up to another realm. A quick glance at the oft-neglected history of cannabis use only strengthens this point.
In ancient China, cannabis taken in excess was said to cause one to see devils; and, if taken over a long period of time, it was said to give one the ability to communicate with spirits.[6] A Chines Taoist priest wrote that marijuana was used by necromancers (those that used magic to communicate with the dead) in combination with ginseng to set forward time in order to reveal future events."[7]
 
Ancient India held cannabis in very high regard and associated it with their religion even more so. The holy books known as “the Vedas” categorizes marijuana as one of the five sacred plants, even teaching that a guardian angel lives in the plant’s leaves.[8] Finally, the Indians believed use of the plant gave one supernatural influence and power.[9]When we turn westward, we find that even the ancient Greeks understood the spiritual qualities of the plant, stating that it was used for visions.[10]
Marijuana, though also used for many medicinal purposes, carries with it profound spiritual realities as well. The ancient cultures understood this. Cannabis was not just for enjoyment, but to communicate to with the spiritual realm. As a past user of the drug, I can attest to the spiritual side of it. There is no doubt it opened me up more to the spiritual realm. God was protecting me even then, but there is no telling what the effects might have been had I continued. After experimenting with some harder hallucinogens, which opened me up to the spiritual side even more, every time I smoked weed, the spiritual effects were even stronger.

So yes, marijuana is legal and therefore Romans 13 doesn’t apply to the use of marijuana. But why come remotely close to anything that opens one up to the spiritual realm apart from God, especially since it is clear that God and his angels are not the only ones who inhabit it.





[3] A synonym for marijuana
[5] Yes, I am deliberately trying to familiarize you with the proper terms that potheads use. A “hit” refers to one puff or inhale. A “jay” refers to a cigarette filled with marijuana. Before I was a Christian, I could just never take anyone seriously who questioned if I smoked “doobies” or “that dope.”
[6] “The Religious and Medicinal Uses of Cannabis in China, India and Tibet” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs Vol. 13(1) Jan-Mar, 1981. See also “History of Cannabis as a Medicine: a Review“ by Antonio Waldo Zuardi on http://www.biology-online.org/articles/history_cannabis_medicine_review/abstract.html
[7] Li & Lin 1974 qtd. by Touw
[8] Touw 3
[9] Ibid
[10] Ibid 2. Although, Greek narcotic use of marijuana seems to be very sparse. 

3 comments:

  1. Interesting take. Surprised a bit by your angle, but it's an argument I've never heard before. I've always found it a double standard that weed was illegal, but alcohol legal, given the studies that have been done on both by experts which demonstrate alcohol to be more dangerous to society as a whole than weed smoke. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Pax,

    Bradley

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  2. Hey Bradley,

    Yes, I have always hated the double standard too. Back when I was a pothead, I always remember thinking that most people were such hypocrites to be so against marijuana and yet perfectly fine with alcohol when the physical dangers of alcohol are much greater than weed. But, as I point out in my post, we need to be aware of more than just physical harm, but spiritual as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is really nice to hear. thank you for the update and good luck.
    mmjherb

    ReplyDelete