While distribution looks different across each province, consumers of legal age (18+) will be able to access the drug on October 17th, being sold online and in some retail stores for recreational use..
Marijuana has been used for centuries, but with the question over legalization over, our national conversation needs a Christian voice to speak into the issues that arise from its wide availability in Canada.
Many people are worried about the implications of marijuana legalization for recreational use – from addiction care, to how it will be policed, and what will be done to keep it out of the hands of young people.
Crossroads is exploring the Christian response to the normalization of pot culture in Canada. We’re unabashedly approaching it with a clear mind.
Clarity considers the facts:
• That the average age that drug use begins is 15.7.
• That almost 4,000 people died in Canada in 2017 from opioid overdose, and that those deaths don’t include the tens of thousands of fatalities associated with alcohol, nicotine, and illicit street drugs.
• And an estimated 6 million Canadians use and abuse illegal and prescription drugs, over 6 million are hooked on cigarettes, over 7 million binge on alcohol, and over 2 million drink heavily.
And now we have legal pot…and a lot of questions. And where information is lacking, we have only room for conjecture.
HOW ARE YOUTH AT RISK?
The increased availability of dope will put youths at risk, that much we know.
There is evidence that the impact of marijuana and its active ingredients can be damaging to a developing brain – under the age of 25. Some studies indicate that early exposure to marijuana can lead to psychosis, depression, and some medical professionals say, addiction.
Dr. Lucinda McQuarrie, a medical doctor in British Columbia, says marijuana has many risks, and affects our coping mechanisms, “When you look at the risk profile – there is great potential for side effects. It is difficult to really know what you’re getting when you take it. The biggest risk for teens is mental health. Your brain is continuing to develop until age 25. Some of the most critical brain developments peak during this time.”
In the rush to change the laws, there has been little or no attention to developing a school curriculum that addresses the use of marijuana, which leads to the question:
If marijuana is also going to be sold in some jurisdictions through private, non-governmental dispensaries, what are the penalties for those who knowingly sell these products to minors?
There is no clear answer to that.
WHAT IS THE SOCIAL COST?
While most opponents distinguish between medical and non-medical usage: they also feel that the legalization of recreational use is like a locomotive hurtling in their direction.
And chiefs of police across Canada are asking how officers will be able to tell if drivers are high and legally charge them, if impaired. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police say they are unlikely to reach their goal of having 2,000 officers trained to spot drug-impaired drivers by the deadline.
We don’t know yet when an instantaneous and accurate roadside detection device will be available.
There’s also the relatively unknown issue that Canadians who admit to pot use at the border may be banned from entering the U.S. – for life.
WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO POT?
John Stackhouse Jr. articulated it well in our July/August edition of Reach, he wrote, “Christians, like any sensible people, can and should resist allowing marijuana anywhere near developing brains. Christians also must condemn intoxication, as Scripture says we must.
As for the occasional nonmedical use by adults, however, that’s not as simple a matter to discern. We should beware anything that alters our contact with reality and be careful not to use it as a way to avoid responsibility—for ourselves or for others. We should want our sadness or anxiety to be managed by positive changes in ourselves and our lives, rather than fooling our brains into feeling good through chemistry.
And we should respond compassionately to those who struggle, as many will, with the baleful effects of marijuana even as we also strive to avoid contempt for those who come to different conclusions than we do about it all.”
In reviewing the unanswered questions above, people of Christian faith must wonder if legalizing recreational marijuana makes life so much more complicated. Wouldn’t it be simpler and wiser to teach people to find everlasting peace with themselves – found only in the recognition of a life with God?
Crossroads CEO Lorna Dueck provides elevated thinking on the pot debate.
“The wisdom of Solomon is going to be needed on legalization of marijuana. Harm reduction is about creating a space, even in the church, for people with addictions and people who view cannabis as harmless. Some of us are going to have to agree to disagree on this new frontier. How we do that needs to be nuanced, grace-filled, and with a wide-open welcome to listen and engage how to bring out God’s best for our lives. What would Jesus do? Something to think on as we move toward legalization of marijuana in Canada.”
OUR DIGITAL RESPONSE:
Crossroads is determined that there is a digital defense – a digital dispensary – of information about drug use that can help address addiction care and drug education. We’re working on a strategic partnership to provide media resources addressing addiction, gateway drugs, marijuana legalization, self-assessment, and the opioid crisis. This project needs support, and if you feel compelled to contribute to this digital dispensary of lifegiving media resources, please contact our development team at 1-800-265-3100.