The fruits of legalization

By Johnny O. Trail

There is a coordinated effort stirring to legalize marijuana in every state within our nation. Numerous states have already legalized the drug and are realizing the magnitude of their actions. One sources avers,

Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form….Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, sales of recreational-use marijuana in California kicked off on January 1. In Massachusetts, retail sales of cannabis are expected to start later this year in July. Voters in Maine similarly approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana in 2016.[1]

Just because something is legalized, it does not mean it is good or even positive for our society and morals. The same is true in regards to Christian morality. Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

A glaring example of the aforementioned principle would be the legalization of alcohol. When one considers all of the evils associated with alcohol consumption, it becomes easy to see how detrimental legalization of that substance has been. Broken lives, destroyed marriages, and wrecked families characterize people who have succumbed to the idol of alcoholism.

A recent article in The Denver Post supports the conclusion that many argued before the legalization of marijuana. That is, legalization of marijuana will create social, legal, and moral problems. The article cites the following facts:

The number of marijuana-related automobile fatalities in Colorado, as measured by the drug’s chief psychoactive ingredient, hit 77 in 2016, the latest in a series of sharp increases in recent years. Fifty-one of those drivers had levels of that substance, called Delta 9 THC, above the threshold for cannabis impairment under Colorado law.[2]

The state of Washington had similar results after marijuana was legalized. Consider the following quote:

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released an analysis of blood tests from drivers involved in fatal accidents. Before the legalization of marijuana, about half of such blood samples had active THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The new study found 85 percent of blood samples had THC.[3]

In addition to creating problems on our highways, marijuana has other negative effects on the human body. People using marijuana typically have a short attention span and lack the ability to perform tasks that require multiple steps. Moreover, marijuana cigarettes have significantly more particulates (tar) than tobacco. “[M]arijuana smoke is usually inhaled longer and more deeply than cigarette smoke, delivering up to four times more tar to the lungs.”[4] Consider the following facts:

  • Marijuana causes short term memory loss.
  • It inflames the lungs and may contribute to lung cancer.
  • It can create an acute panic reaction in stronger doses.
  • It creates anxiety in its users.
  • Marijuana can trigger schizophrenia in certain individuals.
  • It is a drug that creates dependency for its users.
  • Marijuana causes impairment in decision making situations
  • Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, restlessness, decreased appetite, sleep disturbance, sweating, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • It causes an increased heart rate that can cause heart attack.
  • Marijuana causes a reddening of the eyes.
  • It causes blurred vision and headaches.
  • Marijuana causes decreased fertility in women.
  • Marijuana also causes decreased sexual drive in men[5]

Suffice it to say, God wants the Christian to monitor the substances that he puts into his body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”.

At this juncture some individuals wanting to defend the legalization of marijuana (or any other illicit substance for that manner) will throw out a straw man argument.[6] They might say, “Well, if this is the case, what about that cholesterol laden hamburger you just ate. You are not taking care of your body—you big hypocrite.” There is a big difference between smoking a substance that is harmful to one’s self and others in an immediate manner verses the cumulative effects of poor diet choices. While we do need to take care of our physical bodies, the comparisons are not equal.

At this juncture, it is incumbent to acknowledge that marijuana does have some legitimate medical uses. However, these therapeutic uses have been difficult to determine. MacFadden and Woody aver,

With repeated smoking, patients may be expected to experience the typical symptoms of intoxication, such as mood changes and decreases in concentration, coordination, and the ability to estimate time. Separating the undesired side effects of cannabis from it therapeutic effects has been difficult.[7]

Legitimate medical uses for marijuana do exist, but it is a far cry from legalization for recreational uses. The chemicals within marijuana that have medicinal value can be extracted and used in a non-smoking, non-intoxicating form. “Because of the development of synthetic cannabinoid compounds with fewer intoxicating qualities and concerns over the potential harmfulness of marijuana, in 1992 the U.S. government stopped accepting participants in its medicinal marijuana program, which, for some 15 years, had been supplying government –grown marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, and AIDS”[8]

These legitimate uses should not be used to argue for complete and total legalization of marijuana. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

[1] Governing: The States and Localities (2018). “State Marijuana Laws in 2018 Map.” http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html.

[2] Aguilar, John (2018). “As Colorado auto deaths involving marijuana rise, CDOT is asking thousands how they feel about driving under pot’s influence.” The Denver Post. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/03/25/colorado-auto-deaths-marijuana-use/.

[3] Smith, Warren Cole (2015). “Going to Pot?” World Magazine. http://www.worldmag.com/2015/10/going_to_pot/page.

[4]MacFadden, Wayne, and Woody, George E. (2000). “Cannabis-Related Disorders,” Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehenisve Textbook of Psychiatry, Vol. 1, 7th ed. Benjamin and Virginia Sadock, eds.

[5] Grilly, David M. (2006). Drugs and Human Behavior, 5th ed. Pearson, A and B, Boston, 256-278.

[6] A straw man is a fallacy in which an opponent’s argument is overstated or misrepresented in order to be attacked or refuted

[7] Ibid.

[8] Grilly, David M. (2006). Drugs and Human Behavior, 5th ed. Pearson, A and B, Boston.

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