In the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I still remember the scene where Jeff Spicoli, a stoner surf-board type, shows up late for the first class of the school year and is greeted at the door by history teacher Mr. Hand. In the introductions that follow, Spicoli looks into the room and states, “Hey…I know that dude.”
Spicoli was stoned, evidenced by the fact that the reason for Spicoli’s tardiness was lingering by the food machine in the hallway. Yep. He had the munchies.
Here Comes Weed
There is significant debate going on right now regarding marijuana. Specifically, the medical use of the substance vs. the recreational use. Two states have passed laws that allow for the recreational use of marijuana – Colorado and Washington. And, more are on the way. Eight states have legislation pending that would allow the recreational use of marijuana. The momentum for legalizing recreational marijuana is full speed ahead and doesn’t appear to be letting up.
Medically, marijuana does appear to have some value, though it’s not clear exactly what the valid, medicinal uses are. It has been shown, though, that there are many benefits of marijuana use for people dealing with pain, chemotherapy, brain issues, and seizures. I know of one Murfreesboro family that sold the family business and all their personal belongings to move to Colorado so that their child, who has endured severe seizures since birth, could have access to marijuana. (The seizures have lessened dramatically and the child actually laughed out loud for the first time in her life.)
Who’s Problem Is It
Under the Contolled Substances Act, passed in 1970, marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 substance. Among other guidelines, it is judged to have no accepted medicinal use. Because it is declared a Schedule 1 substance in a federal law, the U.S. Attorney General should lead the way in litigious action against offenders. But, he refuses to do so, and legislators are having significant discussion why the federal government hasn’t acted.
In a nutshell, federal law states that Schedule 1 substances are illegal. Yet, the states of Colorado and Washington get a pass because the residents of those states voted to legalize marijuana. The U.S. Attorney General has not pursued federal action against those states. In the discussion, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) stated,
The Justice Department’s decision not to enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states whose laws violate federal law is not a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but a formal, department-wide policy of selective non-enforcement of an Act of Congress.
It appears that everyone is taking an “all or nothing” approach to the issue. Yet, there can and should be an open mind in regard to the medical benefits of the substance.
What About Christians
As our government debates the issue, it is obvious that the use of marijuana will steam-roll ahead. We, as Christians, need to know the biblical stance on the issue.
Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition and author, explains clearly in “Is Recreational Marijuana Use a Sin?” how Christians should respond to the issue. His use of analogical reasoning and scripture is dead on in answering any question regarding the recreational use of marijuana.
He explains that while marijuana is a seed-bearing plant, and it’s clear in the Bible that God gave us seed-bearing plants to be used for food, we cannot reason that marijuana is to be consumed as a food. Carter goes further to state that we are not to be intoxicated, and if the purpose of consuming marijuana is to become intoxicated, then its use is clearly sinful. To be concise, “be sober-minded” is the best approach.
Yet, some extol the uses of marijuana to help go to a “different place” or “a higher plane,” and mystics often speak of an encounter with God and a heightened religious experience while using marijuana.
I would have to ask “why?”.
Os Guinness, in his 1973 book The Dust of Death, explains,
…in the context of Christian life, drugs are, first, totally unnecessary, either as a way to gain meaning or as an escape and, second, in the context of an increasingly drug-dependent culture, they are unnecessary.
Some Christians who read this may understand the critique but wonder why they are still not satisfied in the quiet of their rooms. Hours of critique are no alternative to seconds of the genuine existential reality of knowing God that is possible through the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
God does provide the way to know Him. He has revealed Himself to us through the written word – the scriptures -and through the incarnate Word – His Son, Jesus Christ. No other aid is needed but to live with the desire to seek Him first (“as the deer pants for water”) through the power of the Holy Spirit. If we seek God daily, and hunger after Him, we will know him. If we are obedient to His Word, we will know the joy of His love. And, if we seek and know Christ, He will know us.