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  #1  
Old Oct 26, '10, 5:34 pm
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Silyosha Silyosha is offline
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Default Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Today in my junior civics class, we discussed an article covering the possibility of Prop. 19 being passed to make marijuana officially legal in California (though it has apparently had quite a presence for some time now). I kept quiet, for the most part, because I wanted to learn more about the issue before I made any definitive comments. What is the official Catholic position on this? Is there one? There's a possibility that we will have a class debate on this topic on Friday, and I'd really like a good analysis of the Church's view. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old Oct 26, '10, 7:24 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

See California Catholic Conference

CHURCH TEACHING: The California bishops have serious moral and practical concerns about Proposition 19. They urge you to read Father Coleman’s reflection in its entirety.
Excerpts: “California voters should be wary of economics as the primary factor...While there are financial incentives to consider, morality cannot be divorced from this debate...life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God, and we must take reasonable care of them... Decriminalized or not, cannabis remains a drug. The Catechism offers useful guidance: ‘The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life’ (no. 2291).’... The [Vatican] Pontifical Council teaches that the use of cannabis is ‘incompatible with Christian morality’ because it is an intoxicant that dims reason and is potentially damaging to the integrity of one’s body and soul.”
Morality and Marijuana by Father Gerald Coleman, May 5, 2010


and
Bishop Cordileone, Oakland, Offers Reflections on Prop 19
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  #3  
Old Oct 26, '10, 7:28 pm
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challam2010 challam2010 is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

In our California diocese on Sunday, we were given from the California Catholic Conference "..a brief summary of the text and the arguments of the proponents and opponents of the nine propositions which will appear on the ballot for California's November 2, 2010 General Election."

This included a brief statement of "Church Teaching" regarding each proposition. The statements were taken from various sources, including Bishops' documents.

Regarding the proposition to legalize marijuana, the statement was:
"The California Bishops have serious moral and practical concerns about Prop. 19. They urge you to read Father Coleman's reflection in its entirety.

"Excerpts: "Calfiornia voters should be wary of economics as the primary factor...While there are financial incentives to consider, morality cannot be divorced from this debate...life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God, and we must take reasonable care of them...Decriminalized or not, cannabis remains a drug. The Catechism offers useful guidance: 'The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life' (no. 2291)...The [Vatican] Pontifical Council teaches taht the use of cannabis is 'incompatible with Christian morality' because it is an intoxicant that dims reason and is potentially damaging to the integrity of one's body and soul."
(From Morality and Marijuana by Father Gerald Coleman, May 5, 2010)"

I voted (by mail) already against this proposition, but I have to wonder about cannabis still being considered a "drug" when it is a naturally-occuring plant -- and when it is widely prescribed for medical use for relief of pain, and for appetite support, particularly in cancer patients (I work in the medical field.) It's my personal belief that it's not nearly as harmful or addictive as alcohol -- but then, you weren't asking my opinion.
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Old Oct 26, '10, 7:54 pm
k8ybrd k8ybrd is offline
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Cool Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Quote:
...life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God, and we must take reasonable care of them...
If this is so, how can one defend priests smoking? I know several priests who do and I've always thought it to be odd since we're to treat our bodies as temples and we all know the dangers of smoking.
  #5  
Old Oct 26, '10, 7:56 pm
k8ybrd k8ybrd is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Please let me clarify that post...I meant smoking "cigarettes". (tobacco)
  #6  
Old Oct 26, '10, 8:32 pm
dachsiemom2 dachsiemom2 is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Check out this blog: http://awomansplaceis.blogspot.com/. Gives a good example of how marijuana use is affecting one family.
  #7  
Old Oct 27, '10, 2:17 am
Impertinens Impertinens is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

As far as I know, the Church is no "official", binding position on this matter, for the moment.

Personally, I am favorable to legalization. I have lived for many years in Amsterdam, and although I never smoked marijuana myself - I just did not like the smell, and I was also concerned that, even though the sale of marijuana is semi-legal there, its production and commerce could go through illegal channels and indirectly finance people I do not wish to give money to - many of my friends at the University were infrequent marijuana smokers.

I have seen them "under the effect" more than once, and it was not particularly worrisome, or that different from seeing people who have had a couple of beers: reaction time was lowered, people seemed more relaxed, and that was it. One of my friends, in particular, made a point of smoking a joint every time he had to work on a specially difficult project - and since he is an excellent researcher, I suppose that this works quite well for him.

Of course, marijuana abuse is a very bad idea; but as far as I saw, alcohol abuse is a potentially much, much worse one.
  #8  
Old Oct 27, '10, 4:44 am
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Silyosha Silyosha is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Thanks for all the replies so far. I have never smoked or considered smoking marijuana, and while I do agree that alcohol is much more harmful, we should of course consider the Church teaching first and foremost. If it dims alertness and morality, that is obviously not good. But does it, really? What are the negative affects it can have on health, if any?
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  #9  
Old Oct 27, '10, 11:32 am
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challam2010 challam2010 is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

It shares with tobacco some of the same effects -- some people say worse effects -- regarding lung and heart functions, etc. Although, since many smokers use tobacco in MUCH greater quantities and over a longer period of time than would normally be seen in "social" pot smokers, I'd have to question the studies. You can Google for this information and draw your own conclusions from the research.

It has some of the same effects as alcohol as far as temporarily "dimming" one's mental capacity, although I don't believe to the same extent unless you intake a huge quantity. Again, the quantity used to get a little buzzed on pot is SO MUCH less than alcohol (generally speaking...) so it's hard to compare.

Some claim it is a gateway drug, leading to more serious drug abuse, and that's probably true in some cases with people with addictive tendencies. It is not, however, physically addictive as some feel alcohol is and as are other drugs -- another question, though, is pot being considered a "drug" -- many feel it isn't.

I've seen pot dramatically negatively affect a few lives -- but these were people who had a definite tendency toward addiction and didn't have much motivation to succeed in anything even before the pot use -- I have no explanation -- I'm simply reporting my observation. I've seen far more serious devastation with alcohol addiction and a zillion medical and sociological studies support this.

I've known many, many, many, many people who have used pot as one might have a glass or two of wine, with no problems at all of any kind. In that setting, I think it is directly comparable to alcohol, but again, my own opinion.

The Church has taken the traditional, conservative stance on a substance that has solid medical usage and has been shown to be no more harmful, if as harmful, as alcohol. Of course, it is an illegal substance in most situations in the US -- so if you equate "illegal" with "immoral" as defined by the Church, that's another factor.

As I said -- there's a lot of info on the internet if you care to expand your own research.
  #10  
Old Oct 27, '10, 11:41 am
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

I would think the Church would be opposed on the grounds that it isn't good for your health and it also seems to promote social disorder. Furthermore, isn't legalization of drugs more of a libertarian/liberal instinct rather than a truly conservative one?
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Old Oct 27, '10, 12:28 pm
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donsnow donsnow is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

I would like to point out that medical usage is no justification for legalization.

Both heroin and opium are illegal drugs, but one of them is used to make morphine, a medical usage. You can't buy morphine over the counter, either.

So, I'll go along with the church teaching in post # 2 of this thread.

Just my two cents' worth.
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  #12  
Old Oct 27, '10, 2:15 pm
Impertinens Impertinens is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Quote:
Originally Posted by challam2010
Some claim it is a gateway drug, leading to more serious drug abuse, and that's probably true in some cases with people with addictive tendencies.
I think that one cause of this is that the same shady people who sell marijuana often sell other, more dangerous substances. And if one is used to contact that kind of person and already found out that marijuana is nowhere as dangerous as the "mainstream" opinion suggests, then he or she would be less adverse to "try out" harder drugs.

And, I guess, many dealers probably actively encourage their clients to transition from marijuana to crack or cocaine - it's a more expensive habit and people are less likely to drop it, after all...

And this is the reason why, even though I am pro-legalization, I am very much against the current "it's illegal, but we won't really bother you that much if you are just a buyer" system. Illegal marijuana users are financing prostitution rings, rackets and drug cartels, and since when is that even remotely acceptable?
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Originally Posted by tomarin
I would think the Church would be opposed on the grounds that it isn't good for your health and it also seems to promote social disorder.
Like alcohol, you mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomarin
Furthermore, isn't legalization of drugs more of a libertarian/liberal instinct rather than a truly conservative one?
Perhaps. But whoever said that the Church must be "truly conservative", politically speaking?
  #13  
Old Oct 27, '10, 2:25 pm
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KostyaJMJ KostyaJMJ is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dachsiemom2 View Post
Check out this blog: http://awomansplaceis.blogspot.com/. Gives a good example of how marijuana use is affecting one family.
Her daughter is allergic to pot; that doesn't mean that it should be illegal. Many people are allergic to peanuts, tobacco, ect.
  #14  
Old Oct 28, '10, 9:08 am
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Impertinens View Post
Like alcohol, you mean?
I think it's clear that for good or bad (and I think it's a mixture of both) the huge and longstanding position that alcohol plays in our culture is a fait accompli that cannot and should not be reversed as the disastrous experiment called Prohibition demonstrated. I don't think you can compare the social impact and relevance of marijuana with that of alcohol, which is precisely why the damage that alcohol does to people and the social costs generated by its abuse is so greater.

On the plus side, alcohol in addition to promoting social disorder does a lot to promote social cohesiveness . I also think that whereas moderate consumption of alcohol can have some positive health benefit, there's no health benefit to consuming even small amounts of marijuana and there are certainly many negative health consequences (to the lungs and to the brain, because it's a psycho-tropic drug) to consuming it on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that until very recently, alcohol in the form of beer and wine in the absence of modern water purification was many people's only source of water as well as, in ancient times, calories. Beer and wine can be considered a wholesome foodstuff, whereas marijuana isn't even food.

Quote:
Perhaps. But whoever said that the Church must be "truly conservative", politically speaking?
Another good question. I wouldn't say the Church has to automatically endorse whatever conservative opinion says is right because she has her own set of values which are actually older and more time-tested than what passes for modern conservatism, which is often no different from classic liberalism. However those values that guide the Church are in my opinion conservative ones, and the Church is by definition a conservative institution. So, when you can identify something like marijuana legalization as being born out of a libertarian impulse (maximizing individual liberty, which coincidentally describes the liberal philosophy as well) I feel you can discount that as something that goes against the grain of Catholic thinking.

At the risk of confusing things further, I'm actually in favor of a moderate amount of decriminalization of marijuana possession on the grounds that those laws became too draconian in the 1990's and often the punishment outweighs the crime. However, I don't think outright legalization will be good in the long run for society.
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  #15  
Old Oct 29, '10, 2:32 pm
manualman manualman is offline
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Default Re: Marijuana legalization: what is the Catholic view?

I'm not sure the CCC quote did a good job of explaining why marijuana is problematic when their description would apply equally validly to alcohol.

To me, there IS a big difference in how the two are applied. Other than second hand impacts my freshman year of college, I've never been a pot user, so I can't personally attest to this, but it appears to me that there is almost never an intent to moderation in pot use. Users I have known have always lit up with the intention to "get high."

Alcohol is not inherently that way (though it surely often is abused that way). The legitimate use of alchol is one of moderation to enhance the eating and social experience (such as Jesus obviously endorsed at the wedding at Cana). I myself generally limit my intake to a glass of wine at a social dinner or a couple of beers at a party. Can't say I know anyone who limits their pot use to "just barely noticing its effects." Can any of you?
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