Today is momentous because today marijuana is now legal in all ten provinces and three territories. The Great White North is covered in a green haze, and that green haze smells sweet and skunky.
Marijuana’s decriminalization, in this case, has at least two immediate consequences. First, legalizing it inescapably destigmatizes it. The second consequence is related. Legalizing it gives people one less reason to not smoke it. Yesterday, I could say, “Don’t smoke dope because it’s illegal.” I can’t say that today. So if I’m going to say, “Don’t smoke dope,” I need to ground my prohibition in something better than what the House of Commons rules. And that is the aim of this blog. I want to give some reasons why you should “just say ‘no’ to drugs,” especially to the newly legalized marijuana.
Smoking marijuana produces a high. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. THC is what gives the high. It is impossible to smoke marijuana, which contains THC, without somehow inducing an inebriated state. When marijuana was first popularized in the sixties, it contained about one-half of one percent THC. Today, THC content is about three percent, and in some cases it is over seven percent. So the potency has increased over the years, not decreased. Smoking marijuana produces a high, always.
Because it produces a high, its consumption is forbidden by Scripture. Over and over, Scripture forbids drunkenness and endorses sobriety. There is no question about that. A man can drink a can of Bud Lite and enjoy it without sinning. A man cannot down a six-pack of Bud Lite without sinning. The difference between drinking the can and the six-pack is what each does to the individual’s state of mind. The can of brew is a nice drink. The six-pack of brew is six drinks drunk to produce drunkenness, which is sin. So it is possible to drink beer in moderation without sinning, but it is not possible to toke joints without sinning. Whether it’s one joint or six joints the result is an inebriated state, and this is always sin.
Some wise guy will likely object by saying “Drunkenness is forbidden, but getting high is not.” On a technicality, that Bible scholar is correct: The Bible never says, “Thou shalt not smoke weed.” Neither does it say, “Thou shalt not get high by sniffing gas.” Nor is getting high by drinking antifreeze expressly forbidden with similar verbiage. And to endorse getting high off marijuana, sniffing gas, or drinking antifreeze while condemning getting drunk by wine misses the point. It’s upholding the letter of the law, while missing the heart of God behind it. God wants His people sober, not drunk, not high, not stoned, not hallucinating. God wants His people sober.
Before moving on, I need to note that some other guy will likely object by saying “Marijuana is a plant, and God made plants. So marijuana is good.” To which I reply, “God also made fossil fuels. And I like the real old Camaros that burn lots of gas.” The same people who want to burn grass, which God made, are usually opposed to burning lots of gas, which God also made. The point of me saying that is that we need some consistency: just because God made it doesn’t mean we can use it the way we want. God wants His people sober, and burning grass is a hindrance to sobriety.
It’s a hindrance to sobriety, and it’s also a hindrance to society. The half life of THC in the body is seven days. That’s compared to the half life of alcohol in one’s body, which is about an hour. For regular stoners, it can take months to fully flush the THC out of the system. And for many, it adversely effects their thinking for years if not for their entire lives. We all know stoners who are permanently chill, and that permanent chill is not a virtue. It typically means a permanent lack of ambition. It means a permanent laziness. It means a permanent delay in reaction times. The mind moves slower: there are a few less horses under the hood. Some will demand I produce scientific proof, which I could. But at this point I am making observations from everyday life, which is a biblical way of accumulating data (e.g. Proverbs 24:30-34).
While common men like me are very capable of accumulating data, a few scholars can even be good at it sometimes too. For example, have a look at this article in today’s Globe and Mail. Consider the observations of the academic who wrote it:
A study published this year surveying nearly 100 possible factors associated with psychosis identified cannabis use as one of four most definitively linked to the disorder. One seminal, longitudinal study that followed 45,000 Swedish conscripts over 15 years found a six-fold increase in the risk of developing schizophrenia in those who consumed high amounts of cannabis. A more recent follow-up study of the same group showed that even moderate use (11-50 times) doubled one’s risk. While the numbers might vary from study to study, the results are unequivocal: using cannabis is a risk factor for later psychosis. And the earlier the use, the greater the risk.
What common men like me get by observation, scholars can produce with studies. Marijuana comes with health problems. I should note that I’ve also read that it causes depression, paranoia, and it is a gateway to other drugs. Marijuana hurts the individual in lots of ways. I doubt we will fully know just how bad it hurts people for many years. Hurt individuals make for hurt societies.
Over the long-haul, this will play out in society. If you dump toxins in the St. Lawrence River at Kingston, you might not feel it in Charlottetown for awhile. But if you keep dumping large tankers of toxins in at Kingston, you will feel it in Charlottetown in a while. Time is the same way. There is a generation that will pay for this. That generation will have children who will pay for this. That generation will need engineers and doctors and fork-lift drivers. And fork-lift drivers who are permanently chilled by marijuana have slower reaction times than ones who aren’t. Fork-lift drivers with psychosis tend not to be as reliable as ones without it. The same is true with brain surgeons, and the same is true with mothers and fathers. These things have consequences. If you think we can maintain the quality of life we now enjoy while dismantling our consciences, think again.
Today is a momentous day for Canadians. Many will roll a joint and burn it sometime in the next few hours to celebrate their new found freedom. But my contention is that this freedom is as hallucinogenic as some narcotics. It’s actually slavery, and slavery is devastating. Just because the House of Commons says you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because the House of Commons says you can doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s not good at all. It’s very bad. And I’ve given a few good reasons why that’s so. So please, just say “no” to drugs, and take some time tonight to explain to your children why they should do the same.
For the information on THC, I consulted Wilson, Doug. Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2012.