Christian Thinking about Pot

August 3, 2018 by Context – Crossroads Reach Magazine

Some have suggested that it’s not difficult to think about the impending legalization of cannabis in Canada. Marijuana is a substance that is ingested merely to alter consciousness. We don’t allow any other such product to be used for such a purpose. Legalization is wrong. That’s that.

Others have been equally confident from the other side. Marijuana is a substance that is ingested merely to alter consciousness. We already allow people to drink alcohol legally to do that. Legalization is right. That’s that.

In fact, however, there are more than half-a-dozen additional considerations to weigh up.

First, we can all agree that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s good. Lots of behaviours are legal that are not admirable. Lying, outside of courts, contracts, and slander, is legal—but most of us think it’s wrong at least most of the time. Adultery is legal, but most Canadians continue to tell pollsters that they object to it. So allowing pot use doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean commending it.
Second, our society already allows legal use of the two substances most like marijuana: alcohol and tobacco. So to bar marijuana while we regulate and tax, but also freely provide, alcohol and tobacco seems inconsistent.

Third, many people like alcoholic drinks for their taste, not their biochemical effects, and at least a minority of smokers testify to pleasure from the sheer act of smoking. No one, however, takes cannabis for gustatory pleasure, but merely for its psychotropic or analgesic properties. So we need to think of marijuana strictly as a drug.

Fourth, every other kind of drug that functions the way pot does is strictly controlled. Every opiate (morphine, codeine,) and every opioid (heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl) we restrict to pharmaceutical prescription for medical use only. Recreational use (that is, self-medication strictly to change one’s mood) is frowned upon severely as a misuse of the drug. We generally do not think that chemically induced mood alteration, outside of pathologies such as severe depression, is a healthy path to encourage.