Should a Christian Smoke Marijuana? Ambassador College Department of Theology
The use of marijuana is soaring, skyrocketing! Is marijuana harmful? Are there physical and psychological side effects? Does smoking marijuana lead to stronger drugs? What does it do to formation of personality and character? Never were these questions more timely! Here are the answers.
MARIJUANA is the subject of much controversy. It's much talked about, but little understood. Is it harmful? Beneficial? The "experts" debate. Does it dull the senses? Injure the mind? Can it be habit-forming? Will it lead to stronger drugs? Or is it only a mild stimulant — nothing to get alarmed about? To parents, the word "marijuana" brings fear. They may have young children, teen-agers or college-age offspring. "What can we do to keep our children from experimenting with it?" they ask. Teen-agers claim, But Mom, a little pot never hurt anybody. You smoke cigarettes and we smoke pot. Cigarettes cause cancer — marijuana doesn't. So why shouldn't we smoke it?" Medical authorities,, lawyers, sociologists disagree among themselves. Some praise the drug and extol its supposed virtues. Others say the laws dealing with marijuana are too harsh and need to be repealed. Opponents of marijuana are equally vociferous in their cries against it! Meanwhile, law enforcement authorities see arrests for marijuana possession skyrocketing. They find it impossible to police every home, very high school, every college and every street.
A Marijuana Epidemic?
No one really knows the full extent of marijuana usage. But all authorities agree it is chronic and very widespread. An estimated twenty to twenty-five million Americans have smoked it at least once. A few million others would experiment with a marijuana cigarette if it were legal. High school students are quite familiar with the drug. In a large number of high schools, anywhere from 35 to 90 percent have tried it. School officials keep the estimate low; student estimates run higher. Gallup polls reveal that at least half of the nation's college students have tried marijuana. Authorities vary in their estimates. "It depends on the college," say experts. One thing is certain. Students know where to get it. Buying marijuana is as easy as getting the school newspaper.
Why So Popular?
But why is marijuana so popular? Why do teen-agers, young people and adults alike smoke it? One student put it in these frank terms, "We do it because it's there, because we like it and because it's one way to tell the grown-up world to go to hell." Others say they smoke marijuana because of the pressures around them. Many students claim peer pressure is the reason. One student observed, "There are some groups of people whose common interest is pot, and to be a part of that group you must smoke." One senior high school girl admits she first smoked pot because she didn't want her friends to think that she was "scared or straight." The old argument that smoking marijuana leads to drug addiction is generally laughed at by the younger generation. It is usually dismissed as having no validity whatsoever. Many teen-agers and adults do not feel there is anything immoral about smoking the drug. To many it is simply personal preference. "It feels good, so why not smoke it," they say. To millions of people — especially teen-agers and young adults — it's no worse than having a few drinks. They derive a certain pleasure from it. So why not? — they reason. For most users, marijuana appears perfectly safe. It's not like heroin or even LSD. Said a University of Miami junior: "When parents say marijuana is bad for you, it's just another example of the older generation not knowing the facts." Here, then, are the facts.
What Is Marijuana?
The active ingredient in marijuana is now believed to be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), extracted from the female hemp plant — whose scientific name is Cannabis sativa. Cannabis, which is the ancient Greek name for "hemp," is then the correct name for what is commonly called marijuana. (The popular name "marijuana" is probably a corrupted form of the Portuguese word mariguango, which means "intoxicant.") There are three general classes of cannabis drugs — all of which are extracted from the hemp plant. 1) The "highest" (or most potent) grade is prepared from the resinous exudate of the tops of the mature female plant. In the Middle East and North Africa, this resin is called hashish; in the Far East (notably India), it is called charas. 2) The "intermediate" grade — called ganja — is prepared from the flowering tops and leaves of carefully cultivated hemp plants. 3) The "lowest" (or least potent) grade called bhang — is prepared from the dried leaves and cut flowering shoots of uncultivated plants. In the United States, the general term marijuana refers to any part of the hemp plant, or any extract thereof which induces physiological and psychological changes in human beings. In actual street-corner fact, most of the marijuana available in the U. S. is bhang — the lowest grade and the cheapest type. Charas or hashish is five to eight times stronger than the most powerful marijuana commonly smoked in the U. S., but the cheap, inferior quality of bhang is usually associated with more impurities. Marijuana is also referred to as "the weed," "pot," "stuff," "grass," "Indian hay," "tear" "Mary Jane," and on and on — past the vernacular into slang and past the slang into vulgarity. Most commonly in the Western world (especially in the U. S.), the cannabis plant is picked, cut, dried, ground up, and rolled into crude cigarettes called "reefers" or "joints." In quest for bigger thrills, some have injected marijuana directly into the bloodstream. In other areas of the world, marijuana is imbibed as a drink or ingested in foods such as sweetmeats. Marijuana is not just a problem peculiar to the U. S. As early as 1950, a United Nations report estimated that about 200 million people had used marijuana — and the great majority of these people resided in Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. As far as anyone can ascertain, marijuana had its beginning as a drug in ancient China. It was used in India, Africa, and eventually Europe. The drug was also quite well known among the Indians in Central and South America. In the 1920s marijuana began to be used in the United States. It was accepted as a medicine, and was for a time actually recommended for aches, pains and minor ailments.
Effects on Body and Mind
What happens to the physical body under the influence of marijuana?
"On smoking the drug, there is usually an increase in pulse rate, a slight rise in blood pressure, and conjunctival vascular congestion; blood sugar is slightly elevated; there is urinary frequency without diuresis; and dryness of the mouth and throat as well as nausea, vomiting, and occasional diarrhea have also been noted" (Louis S. Goodman & Alfred Gilman, The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, New York: Macmillan Company, 1965, p. 300).
Other investigators report a sluggish pupillary response to light, slight tremors and a partial deterioration of bodily coordination. But what does marijuana "feel like"? What happens to your mind? We again quote the experienced researchers directly:
"The most common reaction is the development of a dreamy state of altered consciousness in which ideas seem disconnected, uncontrollable, and freely flowing. Ideas come in disrupted sequences, things long forgotten are remembered, and others well known cannot be recalled. Perception is disturbed, minutes seem to be hours, and seconds seem to be minutes; space may be broadened, and near objects may appear far distant. When larger doses are used, extremely vivid hallucinations may be experienced; these are often pleasant, but their coloring, sexual or otherwise, is more related to the user's personality than to specific drug effects. There are often marked alterations of mood; most characteristically there is a feeling of extreme well-being, exaltation, excitement, and inner joyousness (described as being 'high'). Uncontrollable laughter and hilarity at minimal stimuli are common. This is often followed by a moody reverie, but occasionally the depressed mood may be the initial and predominant reaction. With the larger doses, panic states and fear of death have been observed; the body image may seem distorted; and the head often feels swollen and the extremities seem heavy. Illusions are not uncommon, and the feeling of being a dual personality may occur. Even with the smaller doses, behaviors is impulsive and random ideas are quickly translated into speech; violent or aggressive behavior, however, is infrequent. When the subject is alone, he is inclined to be quiet and drowsy; when in company, garrulousness and hilarity are the usual picture. Given the properly predisposed personality and high enough dosage, the clinical picture may be that of a toxic psychosis" (ibid., p. 300, emphasis ours).
Look at the overall theme! Marijuana causes an individual to lose control of his mind! That's not "soaring to new heights"! How dangerous — when one loses control of his own faculty to think and act intelligently!
Coordination of Body and Mind
How does marijuana affect a person's perception of the external world? And what about his reaction time, coordination and intelligence under the influence of marijuana? In the first exhaustive American marijuana study, commissioned by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York, Rober S. Morrow found that marijuana did not affect a user's perception or reaction time to simple stimuli. However, when complex stimuli were involved — which is the real world — the drug did affect both reaction time and steadiness of the hand and body. More recent studies have confirmed marijuana's debilitating effect on a user's reaction time. Studies have also shown a deterioration of scores on intelligence tests — especially on numerical concepts — during "mature stages" of a high. Reduction in intellectual performance was due to a loss of speed and accuracy during intoxication. Many artists and musicians have claimed that marijuana helps them to be more sensitive and creative. However, such artists will admit if they are intellectually honest with themselves — that although their creative thoughts seem to be "liberated" under marijuana intoxications, their ability to transform their disconnected ramblings into actual, tangible, productive works of art is severely limited.
Are Good Results Produced?
The old saying is that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." Are there concrete beneficial fruits produced by marijuana? What does it actually do to, or for, a person? Does it make him a more productive member of society? How does it affect the user? Are those effects desirable? The fact is there are many undesirable aspects in the use of marijuana or any other drug. The effects vary depending on the type of drug, and the personality and background of the individual. But can anyone claim that an uncontrollable state of mind where thoughts and ideas fluctuate wildly without control is good and right? Even if no harm is produced, what lasting good was produced? The only "basis" for advocating the use of marijuana would have to be on the grounds of plain hedonism, self-pleasure-seeking "do-as-you-please"-ism regardless as to consequences for anyone.
A psychosis is far worse than a mere "personality disorder" — x psychosis is a severe mental derangement. And it is charged that marijuana can generate or can at least precipitate, a psychotic reaction. Many scientific papers have been published on the relationship between the cannabis drugs and psychoses. Psychiatrists in India, Morocco, Egypt, and Nigeria have repeatedly emphasized that marijuana can produce insanity. In his editorial in the March 14, 1968 issue of Science, Philip H. Abelson wrote: "The inconclusive information about marijuana is not reassuring.... Some of the effects of marijuana seem reminiscent of LSD. Large doses may produce confusion, disorientation, and increased anxiety and psychoses lasting hours or sometimes weeks. In the Middle East habitual use of marijuana leads to cannabis psychosis whose victims are reminiscent of the derelicts of skid row." In Western scientific circles much controversy has arisen over the possible psychotogenic effects of marijuana. And, obviously, there are differences of opinion among even the experts. But what sane person would gamble his mental health — and his entire future — on "somebody's opinion"? We know the adverse effects of marijuana depend to a large degree upon the individual user. Therefore, it is probable that marijuana would cause psychotic reactions in persons with unstable or poorly organized personalities. Other psychological studies have shown that most people who take drugs have a somewhat poorly organized personality to begin with. That's why they take drugs. That's why drugs appeal to them. They lack something in their lives — and they hope drugs will supply it. So, the simple fact that a person wants to use drugs should immediately suggest that that person could very well have a poorly organized personality, and, therefore, be vulnerable to an irreparable psychotic reaction. Many cases of psychopathology have been reported after single marijuana doses. "Just once" did it. Just one experience con induce serious psychotic disruptions of the mind. It is scientifically impossible to absolutely know what "just one" marijuana cigarette will do to you. And "just once" could ruin your life. Adam and Eve tried the wrong tree "just once"! Many people of strong mind and will cannot take "just one" salted peanut and then stop. The "just one" idea is foolish — and dangerous! Commenting on his clinical observations of marijuana smokers, Dr. Louis J. West of UCLA declared: "What I have seen is... what I believe to be biological changes in brain function because of the use of marijuana." His observations showed some marijuana users suffered from permanent personality changes, apathy, inability to concentrate, impaired skill at communicating with others, fragmentation in flow of thought and loss of insight. And what most people do not realize is that any destruction of brain tissue is absolutely permanent — because brain cells do not regenerate and cannot ever be repaired.
Does Marijuana Cause Sexual Promiscuity and Violence?
Many myths have grown up associating marijuana and sex. Anti-marijuana propaganda has in time past suggested that the cannabis drugs trigger sexual debauchery. On the other hand, pro-marijuana propaganda has intimated that "the high" induced by the cannabis drugs enhances the enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Each side is partially true. During marijuana intoxication, a person's control of his or her own mind is loosened. Moral barriers which would ordinarily stand unbroken break down. Marijuana, therefore, contributes to immorality. Is there a relationship between marijuana and aggressive criminal behavior? This is not a simple question to answer. There have, of course, been numerous specific cases in which a criminal act — from robbery to murder — was perpetrated under the influence of marijuana. But this does not prove a definite cause-effect relationship — the evidence at present is only circumstantial. Rather than causing violence, marijuana more likely is a direct cause of passive lethargy. As we have reported, the habitual users of marijuana are "reminiscent of the derelict of skid row." Detailed investigations from all over the world — especially in North Africa and the Orient — have demonstrated that the long-term users of cannabis drugs all fall into the same sluggish pattern of life: typically passive, lethargic, lazy, nonproductive, slothful, sedentary and completely lacking in drive and ambition. It's a vicious cycle: marijuana induces lethargy, and lethargy craves marijuana!
Marijuana and Alcohol
Marijuana proponents always compare "their drug" with alcohol. What are the facts? It's true that "social drinkers" have a significantly higher death rate than non-drinkers from heart attacks, circulatory diseases, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, homicides, suicides, and motor-vehicle and other accidents. Marijuana, on the other hand, has not been definitely linked to any organic disease, and has been responsible for only just a small fraction of the accidental deaths which alcohol has caused. But as Dr. Louis J. West, chairman of the department of psychiatry at UCLA, told a conference on marijuana: "Just because alcohol [misused] is bad doesn't mean that marijuana is good." That would be faulty logic. Like attempting to prove that the Vietnamese war is good by showing that fewer Americans were killed in it than were killed in motor-vehicle accidents in the same year. Let's get to the crux of the marijuana-alcohol controversy: What pro-marijuana propaganda does is to compare the effects of a large amount of alcohol with a large amount of marijuana. But this is a contrived comparison — the alcohol "drunk" is more severe than the marijuana "high." Of course "too much" alcohol is grossly debilitating. But "a little" alcohol, especially natural wine, is quite beneficial. It relaxes the body and aids in the digestion of food by stimulating the stomach's digestive juices. It also breaks down into natural compounds and leaves the system. Marijuana lodges toxically in the liver.
Marijuana and Tobacco
We've all read the statistics which show that every puff on a cigarette statistically takes r number of seconds off a person's expected lifespan. Yet over 500 billion cigarettes are smoked in the U. S. every year. Marijuana protagonists enjoy exposing the hypocrisy of the average person's acceptance of cigarettes as compared with his emotional rejection of marijuana. The nicotine in tobacco is more physically addictive than the THC in marijuana. And the carcinogenic tars in tobacco far out-kill anything presently known in marijuana. Is the general public hypocritical? You bet it is. Is tobacco more of a national health problem than marijuana? Obviously — and by a long shot. (Write for our free booklet You Can Quit Smoking.) But marijuana is coming on strong. And we must not allow the idiocy of our national attitude toward tobacco to justify the introduction of another, even more subtle killer.
Some Dangerous Parallels
Dr. Alton Ochsner, famous New Orleans chest surgeon, is distressed by parallels between today's youth who get on the marijuana bandwagon and those who enthusiastically promoted cigarettes a few decades ago. In many ways, the world stands in respect to marijuana where it stood in respect to tobacco 30 or 40 years ago. "At that time," says Dr. Ochsner, "cigarettes were supposed to enhance digestion, restore energy, expand mental capacity, comfort nerves." Today, we know better. Cigarettes are proven to be a cause of lung cancer! "I cannot keep silent while the same sort of mistake is repeated with marijuana. At present, no one knows whether smoking pot can cause cancer. What is certain is that the burning of many types of leaves produces carcinogens, and it has been said that marijuana users in India often complain of coughs and bronchitis, symptoms which may precede cancer." Nearly all experts agree that the known physical effects of marijuana are few. But they emphasize that the absence of evidence or knowledge should not encourage people to experiment. They should not assume marijuana is harmless. The current drug explosion has been encouraged by the lack of solid physical evidence about marijuana. There is a large amount of mythology, ignorance and misinformation floating about. At the same time, there is still a dearth of real scientific data. Not until 1970 were substantive books and studies on marijuana widely published. This widespread ignorance of marijuana's potential harm is the rationalization still used by most marijuana users. But if that's your excuse, consider that just a few years ago there was a similar "dearth of real scientific data" about the effects of thalidomide. That "dearth" was transformed into an "avalanche" by the tragic birth of thousands of congenitally deformed, limbless "flipper-babies." Regarding any drug, don't gamble! "When in doubt DON'T." Are you willing to gamble with something so precious as your mind?
Impurities in "the Stuff"
Aside from the effects of marijuana itself, there are other insidious perils faced by those who smoke pot. One big danger is, those who purchase pot never know precisely what they are getting. Marijuana may often be cut with rhubarb or catnip — or something worse! Georgia Tech students who bought some marijuana in Atlanta analyzed what they obtained and found the hashish was spiced with black opium which may turn users on to stronger drugs. Impurities in marijuana are a growing problem. Writing in the January 1970 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, Drs. Gregory G. Dimijian and Felipe A. Radelat noted: "The picture [of how to diagnose and treat the suspected marijuana user] has been muddled somewhat by the frequent adulteration of marijuana preparations with LSD or a tryptamine [DMT, DET, DPT], which is absorbed through the lungs along with the active ingredient of the marijuana." People are naive. And gullible. So when "the man" tells them "it's pure grass," they believe him, never suspecting that what they are really getting has an added "kick" — a "kick" which packs an enormous wallop. Why is the marijuana bought "on the street" likely to contain so many impurities? There are a number of reasons. And the first is the most insidious: 1) The big pushers want to hook as many people as possible on the stronger, more addictive drugs. So they introduce them gradually — as "impurities" in the "harmless" marijuana. This slowly builds up an ever-increasing physical craving for the hard narcotic — a literal physiological compulsion in the unsuspecting individual — without him ever knowing about it. And by the time he does find out about it, it's too late — he's already been hooked. 2) The illegality of marijuana necessitates slovenly, make-shift conditions for its preparation. There are also many wayward stops along its route "from field to face" where ingredients can be purposely or accidentally introduced. 3) The recent trend toward synthesizing "homemade pot" in secret laboratories — in order to bypass the risks of growing or importing it — drastically elevates the possibility that other more deadly molecules will accidentally be synthesized, as unknown "by-products" in this very tricky chemical process. 4) The pushers — the "big boys" and the local junkies — can never be completely sure of the hallucinogenic quality of their "stuff," since every crop, every area and every preparation will differ from one another. And if their "Mary Jane" happens to turn out to be too weak, the pushers are in trouble — because their cash customers will get mad and go elsewhere. So, to be on the "safe side" (which means "the more hallucinogenic side"), the pushers have learned to spike their marijuana with a "little dash" of LSD, DMT, etc.
From Marijuana to Heroin?
In smoking pot, the user generally has no intention to go on to hard narcotics, such as heroin. However, once they start, many marijuana users keep on seeking ever higher "highs." Said one heroin addict: "If I hadn't taken pot, I wouldn't have known how to get heroin or how to use it." Reported a Harlem youngster: "In my circle, pot had nowhere near the status of heroin, and, after a while, pot didn't do as much for you" (Jess Stearn, The Seekers, p. 188). Sure, most marijuana smokers do not progress up to heroin addiction. There may be no direct or physical compulsion to try heroin, if you smoke marijuana. But a social and psychological pressure does build up which has led thousands upon thousands of youngsters to try stiffer drugs. Not all marijuana smokers are heroin addicts, but nearly o// heroin addicts were once marijuana smokers. The booklet Drug Abuse and the Law released by the District Attorney of Los Angeles said one hundred addicts interviewed consecutively at the California Rehabilitation Center at Corona admitted they used marijuana before the hard stuff. One inmate declared, "You smoke a stick of marijuana in the morning, get lazy on the job and get fired. In my case, it led to fixing with heroin." In 1969 there was a partial dearth of marijuana in the United States, sometimes referred to as the "Great Grass Drought" or "Marijuana Famine." Tightened security at the Mexican border and poor Mexican marijuana crops due to bad weather contributed to the dearth. When marijuana wasn't so readily available any more, what happened? Many users turned to harder drugs: the amphetamines, and even heroin! This alone seems to prove the connection between marijuana and heroin and other drugs. When a person is involved in the drug culture, and one drug becomes unavailable, he doesn't quit taking drugs. He turns to something else!
Is Marijuana Habit-forming?
Medically speaking, marijuana is not positively known to be addicting. That is, it doesn't form a dependence which ends in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is no longer ingested. Some smoke marijuana the way others use alcohol. After a time, they might possibly quit and never smoke it again. For others, it's not that simple. Users may not become addicted to marijuana in the traditional sense of the word — yet they very often do become addicted to the idea of a life of ease, pleasure and lack of responsibility. Marijuana merely makes this exodus from reality possible. Kids who get "high" continually don't want to do anything else. Their world is one which seemingly has no problems, and they want no part of any other kind of world. In spite of such kickbacks some still claim marijuana is beneficial, others have been along the drug route and know better. For those who would like the testimony of a former pot user who quit, here it is.
A Doctor Speaks Out
Dr. Allen Cohen was once among the Harvard University graduate students who participated in "research" conducted by Dr. Timothy Leary on psychedelic drugs' Dr. Cohen is one of many, many sociologists and psychiatrists who do see the problem of drugs — and who are responsible enough to speak out. In an April 4, 1969 article in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Cohen stated quite frankly: "Less than six years ago, I urged all my friends to turn on. For a while I felt that getting high was 'where it's at.' "I remember that we thought acid wasn't very harmful and that marijuana and hashish were probably even good for us... "Back in our little psychedelic community, I could not help realizing that drugs do not make better people. There were still laziness, arguments, lack of consideration, sexual jealousies and fear. It added up to 'psychedelic hypocrisy.' "I have observed that drug users (me included) did not live any more spiritual lives, although they thought they were very spiritually aware persons." That is the testimony of a former pot user — one of the original psychedelic researchers. Regarding the comparison of marijuana with alcohol, Dr. Cohen says: "While alcoholism constitutes a major social problem, surely it is not valid to justify the adoption of a new abuse by trying to show that it is no worse than a presently existing one. The result could only be added social damage from a new source. Moreover, marijuana, unlike alcohol, is nearly always consumed by its users for the express purpose of attaining a 'high,' a disorientating intoxication." Those who insist on using marijuana will do so in spite of what Dr. Cohen said. But those others who have wise ears to hear sage advice will stay away from pot — no matter how deceptively glamorous it may appear. That is why, after serious study, the American Medical Association reached the conclusion: "Cannabis [marijuana] is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern." The AMA also declared, "Legalization of marijuana would create a serious abuse problem in the United States." Said Dr. Edward R. Bloomquist, of USC's School of Medicine, "kids who get high repeatedly don't want to come down. They find a world in which they believe that they have no problems, and they become social bums. They turn the whole experience into a protest tool, which they use to mock the middle-class culture that they disdain. Used in this way, marijuana leads persons into a drug-culture-shadowed world which is disturbing to society."
Why Turn to Pot?
You know all the supposed reasons for smoking marijuana: pressures of society, peer pressure, hypocrisy of the older generation, example of pill-popping parents, curiosity, enjoyment, thrills, easy availability of the drug. On and on it goes. There are about as many excuses for smoking marijuana as there are users. The only common bond seems to be pot and futility. But is it worth it to vent frustrations and dislike for the establishment by blowing your mind on pot? Dulling your mind — your most priceless possession — isn't going to solve anything! You may get "high" and escape reality for a short time, but after you "come down" the same old problems are staring you in the face. If you smoke marijuana, why do you smoke marijuana? Being human, your number-one concern is what you can do for self. What you can do to please you! And, sadly, this preoccupation with pleasing self is often proportionate to a growing lack of concern for others. You are interested in experimenting with anything that has the potential of providing you with "kicks." And you don't want anybody telling you what you can or cannot do — even if it is for your own good. Why marijuana? Because marijuana allows you to experience a pleasant physical sensation. You can get a little "high." It's different. "It's fun," you say. Therefore, no matter who speaks out against the dangers of marijuana, no matter what facts are brought to light — you probably will continue to argue in favor of smoking pot simply to justify your actions. That's the way the human mind works unless you are willing to approach the problem objectively. Those whose minds are made up will continue smoking marijuana, no matter what this booklet says. But those being called to an understanding of what their human nature is, and what the Word of God says, will be willing to ask if it is right to smoke marijuana. What does the Bible say? There is no scripture we can conveniently quote, saying "Thou shalt not smoke" (whether it be marijuana or tobacco). But there are biblical principles which govern all human behavior. The first principle is obedience to the laws of God and the laws of our secular governments. Jesus Christ obeyed the laws of the land, as did Paul and all the apostles. Notice what Paul wrote to the Romans: "Every subject must obey the government authorities, for no authority exists apart from God; the existing authorities have been constituted by God. Hence anyone who resists authority is opposing the divine order... Magistrates are no terror to an honest man, though they are to a bad man. If you want to avoid being alarmed by the government authorities, lead an honest life and you will be commended for it; the magistrate is God's servant for your benefit... Pay them all their respective dues, tribute to one, taxes to another, respect to this man, honor to that" (Rom. 13:1-7, Moffatt translation). While a carnal mind will argue back that certain laws are unjust, a converted mind will humbly obey the laws of the land, as long as they do not contradict the laws of God. A Christian, therefore, would not partake of an illegal drug such as marijuana, out of obedience and respect to man's law. But what if marijuana were legalized? Would a Christian then have reason to smoke marijuana? The same principles apply here as apply to tobacco smoking. While there is no command, 'Thou shalt not smoke," two of the "Big Ten" say "Thou shalt not covet" and "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex. 20:13, 17). While tobacco kills slowly through tar and nicotine poisoning, marijuana is a potential killer in other ways: driving a car under the influence of marijuana, permanent psychic damage, or temporarily losing control of the mind. The commandment against coveting applies even more directly. Any item over which one is willing to risk years in jail, just to smoke, is definitely "coveted": it is yearned for, lusted after, needed, worshipped. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?... therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Cor. 6:19-20). Does it glorify the Creator — who gives you every clean breath of air you breathe — to pollute that air by dragging any kind of weedy smoke into the lungs He created? The normal healthy function of the lungs is drastically impaired by any kind of smoke. THEN WHY SMOKE? Purely for hedonistic pleasure. While all pleasure is not wrong, God gives mankind pleasures that last, not momentary escapist "pleasures" that are "here today, gone tomorrow." Paul referred to the "pleasures of sin for a season," or physical kicks which last but a short time (Heb. 11:25). God says, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Cor. 10:31). Are you glorifying God with a reefer in your mouth? Far from glorifying God, smoking marijuana harms the body, offends others, disobeys laws, dishonors parents (another of the Ten Commandments), and is potentially harmful to your mind. While marijuana is not physically addictive, "potheads" become so addicted to the marijuana "life-style" that they cannot give it up! Regarding such "psychological addiction," God says, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof... sin shall not have dominion over you" (Rom. 6:12-14). If the "pot syndrome" of lethargy, laziness and rebellion rules your life, you can quit, but you must leave the source of the problem: the "friends," the pushers, and the environment which got you started. Besides changing your "around," you must also change your "within" — yourself!
A Better Way
Here, then, is a better way — change yourself! Become a productive member of the human race. Quit making excuses for yourself. And if you smoke marijuana, quit marijuana! Don't blame your parents for a bad example. If they haven't been the right kind of parents, it's because they didn't know how. Are they guilty of popping pills, or neglectful and disinterested in what you do? These certainly aren't reasons for becoming a "pothead." The ills of the establishment are no excuse either. National and world conditions aren't right, but you aren't improving a thing! Understand smoking marijuana won't make personal, social or world problems miraculously disappear. It only makes conditions worse! There is a better way! And it gets results! But it has to start with you, the individual. You need to change yourself first!
Where to Find Solutions
Most only shake their heads when asked for solutions. The establishment has no answers, and certainly the drug cult has none. But there are solutions. Shocking as it may seem, the ills of this modern age are a direct result of disobedience to active laws! Yet, most scientists, sociologists — even religionists — don't understand how they work. These misunderstood laws are found in the only source that really explains why we have greed, hate, wars, aimlessness and seeking after empty thrills. This neglected source is the world's best seller — your Bible — the Creator's instruction book to man. This book shows why the ills of society are a natural result of breaking invisible, spiritual laws. It shows that penalties will be exacted when law is violated. For example, there are physical laws that regulate your physical health. If you break these laws, there is a penalty — you become sick! But if you are careful to obey these laws, you are rewarded with good health. Likewise, there are spiritual laws set in motion to produce peace, contentment, happiness, every desired good. They are the foundational principles of right living! But instead of living in harmony with these laws, most have rejected them. Drug taking is only one more striking example that even the best minds in this "enlightened twentieth century" do not understand this fact. But you can understand it. You can kick the drug habit if you are willing. You can be truly happy — radiate vitality and purpose — and have a healthy mind and body. How to do it? Eradicate the cause that produces problems and undesirable effects. There are no "kickbacks" or "hang-ups" when you're in harmony with God's living laws. On the contrary, there are tremendous rewards and benefits! There is happiness! But if you break these laws they will break you!
Success Depends on You
Do you really want a full, happy life — abundant well-being? Success will depend on you. It will demand a big change in your outlook, your values and your life! It will mean replacing old bad habits with new right ones! This will take work and effort on your part — hard work. But it can be done, and the rewards are worth it! Start by writing for the book announced on the adjacent page. Investigate these living laws, and begin to put them to work in your life. You will be amazed at the remarkable results! Then, determine to close the generation gap improve your relations with parents and society. Be willing to help solve problems. Change your peer group and make new friends. Don't let "peer pressure" or "social pressure" become an invitation and an excuse for taking drugs. You can't cope with the problems and issues of life if you're a slave to "pot." Above all, learn concern for others. Love and respect your fellow human beings. Happiness and success is the way of outgoing concern.