Growing up in a family divided on so many issues was confusing. Whatever the topic, one relative would tell me something and, almost inevitably, another would refute the other and tell me something completely contradictory. The issue of marijuana was no different. With one side decrying the perils of recreational drug use and the other side praising its benefits, I wasn’t sure who to believe; after all, why would either side lie to me?
While I never witnessed any illicit activity as a child (those things, like all shameful acts, were done in the shadows), I was acquainted with its consequences. No, I couldn’t fully appreciate all of the ramifications of drug involvement around me because I was simply too naive, but the things I could perceive never sat well with me. I knew in my gut something wasn’t right about the situation, and it wasn’t until I was older that my suspicions about some of my family were confirmed.
Now, what was I to think? I knew, respected and loved these people. What they were doing, however, was wrong in my mind. Are they bad people? Definitely not. There comes a stigmatization with marijuana that I will assert is well-deserved, but it is the defamation of the individual that is unwarranted. It’s easy to say this or that about something you personally know nothing about until whatever it is turns up at your front doorstep. Then you’ve got real decisions to make. The proof is in the pudding, and there is plenty of pudding here.
I said a moment ago that the stigmatization of marijuana is good. Yes, anything that draws people’s focus away from God should be met with an onslaught of scrutiny by Christians. I’m usually met with some remark about marijuana’s vast benefits for people. There is real evidence to the contrary, especially since its decriminalization in some states, but that isn’t my focus. If marijuana can be curative, then that’s wonderful. We should advocate for things that have medicinal properties, but we shouldn’t glorify its widespread abuse. That is a different thing entirely.
In an argument with a friend about the mind-altering effects of marijuana, he responded with “NyQuil is mind-altering. Should we ban that, too?” Well, if that’s the only qualifier, I would say yes, but the issue runs deeper than that. No issue is merely biological for humanity but is philosophical, sociological, ethical, and so on. I think my friend operates from the assumption, as so many do, that marijuana is non-habit forming. Well, I have seen ample evidence to the contrary.
We are chemical beings, so it’s absurd to argue that all things that are in some form “mind-altering” need to be abolished. It’s when something becomes a safe-haven or a sort of illusory reality that it becomes dangerous. It is a good thing, however, to keep our wits about us as much as possible. But when we start to substitute our senses, our reality, and even our own personhood for something, we should examine why we are looking for substitution in the first place. This is why people coping with NyQuil, marijuana, alcohol, cheeseburgers, or whatever else are even comparable. They may be entirely different demons, but they’re born from the same dark cavern and aim for the same ultimate goal: destruction. I have seen first-hand the effects of men escaping the pains of their realities through their recreational drug use. Eventually, it wasn’t enough, and they experimented with other false realities, some of them eventually paying the ultimate price. It is only through God’s grace that I can say my family members’ stories did not end in the grave.Here’s what I mean by stigmatizing the