I want to start by staying that I am a Christian, I love Jesus and was raised to believe that marijuana is bad…. just as bad as every other street drug and nothing more than a gateway to those drugs. Until the past few years I was adamantly against supporting any legal use of it. For years I ignored stories from those supporting marijuana believing that it’s easy for those who have used marijuana to proclaim it’s amazing power in calming nerves, stopping seizures, erasing pain and allowing many with debilitating pain to regain some control of that and their lives. It’s a drug they’re addicted to. Of course they’re going to say that. However, my view has changed and I think it’s important that as Christians we take the time to learn and understand more about marijuana, it’s uses and how it’s helping so many more people and families than it’s hurting.
MARIJUANA IS ALREADY AFFECTING CONGREGATIONS
While I am far from any expert, I am someone that genuinely cares about other people and their pain and I am a habitual researcher of topics that interest me so in doing this I’ve come to believe that the church as a whole needs to reconsider their view and stance on this medical option. This IS affecting people in congregations across the country and without a real conversation and understanding of this as a church we are telling people who are suffering that we are not interested in their pain relief enough to consider or support an option that is statistically and medically proving to be a much better alternative to the addiction forming narcotics most are currently being prescribed.
BUT IT’S AGAINST THE LAW
I understand that the church cannot currently condone or support something that is against the law which is why many Christians have stood against any use of marijuana, including medical use. However, voting for medical use of marijuana is not a vote for street drugs or against God and doesn’t have to be so conflicting. We have been given the amazing gift of living in a country where we have a choice and voice about a lot of things. For years we as Christians have blindly held to the fact that marijuana is against the law so it should never be supported. Fast forward to today. We have access to information. We have access to stories of people’s lives: lives being destroyed by narcotics and lives being saved by marijuana. If you follow the news and the statistics you will never see that families lives were torn apart by marijuana use, especially medical marijuana use, but you will see that with other pain relievers, legal ones. If you look at statistics of people in jail and prison for drugs you will see they fall into two quite different categories. Prisoners with marijuana charges are almost always there for possession only. Prisoners there for prescription abuse are there for stealing or violence in an effort to obtain more of the drugs they desperately crave and were more often than not legally prescribed to them at some point. So, we as a church have for too long blindly just supported what is legal while opposing what is illegal without taking the time to really look into what might be best for people and families.
I have reason to be interested in this and it's not not because I use marijuana or need to at this time. I lived with someone who for years struggled with chronic pain in his joints. While he’s been told he has a genetic predisposition to painful arthritic and debilitating autoimmune issues he’s yet to be given a clear diagnosis or the correct medicine to help him deal with the pain. The doctors are very aware of the pain associated with these types of disorders but are hesitant to prescribe pain pills because they know his issues are chronic and that pain pills will either lead to other pain pills or heavier street drugs when his body becomes immune to the prescriptions or he finds himself in a position where he can no longer get or afford those prescriptions. Sadly he is not the only one facing an issue of chronic pain with an unbalanced medical solution. In his case he’s being under prescribed medications that may help him in an effort to keep him from medicines they already know have a high risk of addiction. Others I know have watched their families fall apart due to legitimate prescriptions for chronic pain that led to abuse of those pills or the need for stronger medicine, leading to illegal use of others prescriptions or even street drugs. The pain is real and so is the struggle in what to do.
GATEWAY DRUG THEORY
Two years ago in Florida the medical marijuana law lost by a narrow margin and I wasn’t surprised because shortly before voting day I saw a huge media push exclaiming that passing the medical marijuana use law would allow our children access to weed cigarettes on every street corner which would lead them all to become drug addicts. While I personally supported the bill that would allow medical marijuana to be legal in Florida I was very quiet about my position because as a Christian in a small community I didn’t want people to assume I supported and encouraged illicit drug use. I don’t. What I do support is a medical option that from personal research appears to be a much safer alternative and a much less likely gateway drug than the currently prescribed pain killers and narcotics.
I believe that personality, personal experiences and exposure, and mental status are all contributing factors to drug use. Those who are either predispositioned to have an addictive personality or are in a more influential state of mind due to current life circumstances may try or use marijuana and move on to something else. Chances are though, if they never had access to marijuana but did have access to cigarettes or alcohol and heavier drugs that they would still choose to try those drugs without the “influence” of marijuana. The debate on this is too extensive to get into right now but the purpose or reason for a person choosing to take a drug (pharmaceutical or street) will determine what that person moves on to in relation to drug use.
MARIJUANA FOR PAIN
At the end of the debate it's hard to argue with parents who have watched their children suffer with little to no help who find that marijuana is the medical solution to their child’s suffering and the list is extensive on what medical marijuana can and is helping children with already in states where they have legal access. As Christians voting against this medical option we are turning our backs on those children and parents. It’s hard to watch our friends suffer through the debilitating pain related to cancer therapies but being hard to watch is nothing compared to the pain they are suffering that can many times be controlled with marijuana. Still not sure? Go to Youtube and watch a few videos of how legal prescriptions were either unhelpful or worse and how marijuana changed and improved people's lives when nothing else could. People in pain deserve for the church, for Christians, to at least listen to them and do the research to make an informed decision when voting for or against marijuana laws. Are you willing do that for your peers, your friends, your friends kids or even for your future self one day?
To read more about the 2016 initiation for the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization amendment click here.