Chronic pain, marijuana, and sanctifying grace- a dilemma


#1

OK, here’s my dilemma.

I’ve suffered from chronic back pain off and on for the past fifteen years, due to an injury I suffered in my early twenties.
In my “younger, wilder” days, I used to smoke marijuana, recreationally, as well as to self-medicate for chronic, severe depression. I had quit altogether for about ten years.

The past year or so, I have been turning to pot again to alleviate my back pain- anti-inflammatories just don’t do the job, and the legal alternative would be to use highly addictive prescription painkillers which interfere with my mental functioning far more than the pot does.

Just of late, what with Lent starting this coming Monday (I’m Byzantine), I’ve decided to give up the pot for Lent, and I feel I ought to give it up altogether, because it is an illegal drug. I know that in order to stay in a state of sanctifying grace, I am called upon to obey all just laws of my country.

Here’s the rub- I am just not convinced that smoking pot is a sin, or at least not a grave sin, as long as you’re not misusing it (much the same as with legal drugs, or, heck, alcohol. I have seen a lot of very persuasive evidence both on the history of marijuana prohibition and on scientific studies of the supposed “harm” that has convinced me that the laws prohibiting its use are unjust laws.

I do live in a state that allows for the medical use of marijuana, and my employer, who uses it for Grave’s disease, could probably hook me up with a sympathetic doctor, but there are still the federal laws to contend with.

So, here’s my question. If I can get approval for medical marijuana, can I use it and remain in a state of sanctifying grace? What if I can’t get approval? It’s the only thing that consistently helps with my pain without knocking me on my sweet bippy (the analgesic effect lasts for hours after the “high” wears off, and I am more or less able to set my own work schedule, so being “stoned” on the job isn’t really an issue)

In the past, the pain has caused me to miss a lot of days of work, which of course, makes it difficult to make a living (fortunately, I’m currently an independent contractor, so I’m not going to end up unemployed from missing too many days of work, but I still have the rent and bills to pay.)

I find it hard to believe that a loving God would deny me sanctifying grace for using a natural plant to remedy my pain, especially when the pain could potentially cause me to be unable to earn a living.

But if it comes down to choosing between using the pot and staying in a state of grace, I think I would have to live with the pain.

Right now, I’m praying that if I can’t use what I’ve come to regard as my medication and still stay in a state of grace, that God will simply heal me and make it a nonissue.

Meantime, I’m hurting, and will be at least until Easter. I’m working on modifying my schedule so I will be working fewer hours more days so I that I won’t be in such severe pain that I am unable to work altogether.

Does anyone have any thoughts or advice?


#2

I suffer from chronic back pain…I have never and will never use marijuana for pain…And guess what I don’t use any drugs either. I go to an acupuncturist regularly and I get immediate and long lasting relief. It’s covered by insurance. I get relief and it’s 100% legal.In addition, I have been giving abdominal strengthening exercises which put less stress on my back muscles. I am dieting and as a result, I feel and have much more energy. If I can do it, anyone can.

I don’t need to procrastinate my substance abuse either or compromise my faith or hurt my family by taking it. Grow up and use another alternative and stop looking for excuses to validate your drug addiction…get help with your addiction instead and your back pain will be healed too.

First of all, get on your knees and thank God for all your blessings and instead of going to God as the last resort…make it your first.


#3

Hmm, this seems to be “grey area” that will most likely bring as many opinions as there are posters to this thread.

Personally, I see no moral difference between using an addictive perscription painkiller and using medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval. I see no difference between a “natural” plant and an “artifical” pill. Both have benefits and side effects.

You said that your state allows for the use of medical marijuana. I know that it’s a sin to disobey a just law, but if your state government legalized it, you’re in the position of dealing with contradictory regulations, and I think you could morally follow whichever law you think is the most just.

If you do get approval from a doctor, I see no problem with the use of medical marijuana, as long as you’re only using it for the purposes of pain relief, and not for the other effects that marijuana causes. In your post, you mentioned that you used to smoke for recreational reasons, so before you consider medical marijuana, I would do some serious “soul-searching” and discern if your motives are as pure as you say they are.

If the doctor won’t approve it…then you can consider your next move, but right now you don’t need to worry about a scenario that probably won’t happen…


#4

This probably won’t be useful, but I often think of it when this subject is raised.

Bill Hicks once said that Maijuana grows everywhere and thus can be considered to be part of nature. Subsequently, legislating against nature is kind of like saying that God made a mistake.


#5

Just an observation — morphine is illegal unless prescribed by a doctor, and even if it weren’t, it still would be sinful to use it for mere recreational intoxication. But when it’s administered for a legitimate medical reason, no sin is involved, because the purpose is not intoxication, the purpose is pain relief.


#6

Go to a pain clinic. They can give you a steriod epidural that should do wonders for you back and it’s not addictive. You can have it done every six months if necessary -and it’s legal unlike smoking pot.


#7

Pot is legal for medicinal purposes in the OP’s state.

If you can do it legally, and you know that it is better for you than more traditional treatments for pain, then go for it. I’m going through lots of severe pain right now, and i wish that was an option for me, instead of painkillers that incapacitate me.


#8

Yes but the OP isn’t approved for medicinal marijuana use as of yet so how exactly is he getting it? From a dealer who is breaking the law and the OP is doing like wise. I honestly think a steroid epidural would give much better long term relief than smoking pot. Both my parents have chronic back pain and both have benefitted tremendously from such a procedure.


#9

Oh, I wish I could afford a pain clinic, acupuncure, etc…

I am in a very low income bracket - I netted less than $7k last year, largely due to the fact that the owner of the establishment where I work doesn’t grok the necessity of advertising on a consistent basis (and this was my business practices instructor- he recruited me out of school). I don’t have health insurance- can’t afford it. Pot is relatively cheap- I only smoke tiny amounts (a joint would be about a three day supply for me) so a little goes a long way.

I’m sort of trapped where I am for the forseeable future since any other job I would be able to find would soon put me back out of work after I missed too many days due to the pain. I do try to keep my abs in shape, do stretching exercises,belly dance and I do get some relief from this, but not complete relief, and there have been times when even when I’m exercising consistently that my back will go out on me to the point where trying to exercise is painful- I actually had to drop out of my belly dance class because of it. Go figure.

ack. Yeah, I actually am doing the soul-searching, that’s why I’ve chosen to live with the pain during Lent- basically to make sure that I’m not reaching for my one-hitter when I should be reaching my rosary to deal with psychological discomfort. If I spend the next, well, forty-six days- I actually stopped smoking the other day, training myself to pray when I’m feeling stressed or depressed, then I won’t be as tempted to take that short cut to inner peace. I’ve actually been rather good about this the last couple of months, and cut my usage way back, but I think I could do better.

I do have periods of time when the pain is down to nuisance level. More than once, I have run out of pot, and since the pain wasn’t that bad during the period of time, not gotten any more for weeks. I really don’t get a psychological jones for the stuff if I don’t happen to have any, but if it’s on hand, it is tempting to reach for. But a few times a year, usually during allergy season, the pain becomes excruciating- doctors laugh at me when I tell them that the pain seems to be tied to my allergies. It also tends to flare up around “that time of the month”.

stbruno, you’re making a lot of assumptions about me, and they are wrong. I don’t go to God as a last resort, I thank Him for my blessings every day, and pray the rosary, and the Divine Mercy, and other forms of contemplative prayer when I can find the extra ten minutes or so…


#10

I didn’t advocate her continuing to get it illegally. The entire point of this topic, as i understood it, was whether getting it legally would be morally acceptable.

Whatever you decide to do, Asbestos Mango, i hope you do find relief for your pain.


#11

Well, that’s most of the point.

The rest of it is that I genuinely believe the laws against marijuana to be unjust- I really don’t want to digress into a discussion of the history of marijuana prohibition, I’m going to just say I’ve done a lot of research on the topic over the years and I’ve seen a lot of evidence that the laws were placed into effect for unjust reasons, and that the government’s own scientists have recommended that prohibition of pot be repealed. So, the rest of my question is, even if I couldn’t get medical approval, (I’m actually fairly certain that I could) would I be within the bounds of morality by using it, as long as it was exclusively for the purposes of pain relief, based on the law being unjust?

Whatever you decide to do, Asbestos Mango, i hope you do find relief for your pain.

Thanks.

Really, it would be so much simpler if God would simply heal me (yes, I do believe in miracles, and I would like one very much, please.)

And like I said before, if using the pot means losing sanctifying grace, I would rather live with the pain. I went through what amounted to a five-year crisis of faith, wondering if God really cared about me (I had been dealing with issues related to being fired from more than one job unfairly- the casino business is evil and I’m glad I’m out), and I’m just learning to trust God again, so I guess that if it comes to that choice, I’m just going to have to trust Him to provide me another means of earning money if I’m not able to earn enough income by working due to the back pain.

So, folks, pray for me.


#12

stbruno, you’re making a lot of assumptions about me, and they are wrong. I don’t go to God as a last resort, I thank Him for my blessings every day, and pray the rosary, and the Divine Mercy, and other forms of contemplative prayer when I can find the extra ten minutes or so…

Here’s the difference about …Many of our saints were stricken with many afflictions even the stigmata…Instead of finding the extra ten minutes or so, they surrounded their whole life as offering up their pain to the glory of God, maybe for reparation of sin, maybe for the Poor souls in Purgatory…But they did it first in their day. Even the current Pope who I guarantee you is much busier than you are, starts and ends each day with prayer. One hour minimum. And our Late Pope could teach you alot about handling pain. Perhaps you should go the public library and check out many of the books about our late pope.

If I sound like I am not sympathetic, on the contrary I am. But I do also know that there are much more effective and definitely cost effective ways of relieving pain. I would never advocate belly dancing unless you use it for relaxation besides that costs money too. All you have to do is plug in the search engine, abdominal exercises that strengthen the back and I am sure you would come up with an entire regimen. Even the library carries books on therapeutic exercise.


#13

Here’s the difference about …Many of our saints were stricken with many afflictions even the stigmata…Instead of finding the extra ten minutes or so,

Um, go back and read my post. Rosary and divine mercy every day. It takes eight or nine minutes to pray the Divine Mercy, and eighteen to twenty to pray the rosary. Right there is almost a half hour.Then, when I can find the extra ten minutes or so, I do some other contemplative prayer (and more days than not, I can find the extra ten minutes), So, on an average working day, we’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of forty minutes minimum. And that’s not including my regular morning and evening prayers, which is another ten to fifteen a day, although to be fair to you, I didn’t mention prayers other than rosary and Divine Mercy, so you would really have had no reason to think I spend more than thirty minutes a day in prayer, but you seem to be assuming that I’m only spending ten minutes when I can find the time, which is not what I wrote in my post. So, on an average working day, I’m spending anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour in prayer. On my days off, I often spend an additional half hour (in ten minute increments scattered throughout the day) doing some form of contemplative prayer. Which means on the days I don’t work, I’m spending a minimum of an hour in prayer, sometimes as much as an hour and a half, and I still manage to get my housework and errands done.

So now they surrounded their whole life as offering up their pain to the glory of God, maybe for reparation of sin, maybe for the Poor souls in Purgatory…But they did it first in their day. Even the current Pope who I guarantee you is much busier than you are, starts and ends each day with prayer. One hour minimum.

He’s the Pope. Prayer is part of his job.

And our Late Pope could teach you alot about handling pain. Perhaps you should go the public library and check out many of the books about our late pope.

Actually, I think I’ll try looking up his encyclicals. I’ve never read a papal encyclical, and I think it’s time I started.

If I sound like I am not sympathetic, on the contrary I am. But I do also know that there are much more effective and definitely cost effective ways of relieving pain. I would never advocate belly dancing unless you use it for relaxation besides that costs money too.

That costs money? Really? It costs money to put on a CD and shake my tailfeathers in my bedroom? The classes I took cost money, but not very much, and anyhoo, that was years back. Still remember how, though.

All you have to do is plug in the search engine, abdominal exercises that strengthen the back and I am sure you would come up with an entire regimen. Even the library carries books on therapeutic exercise.

Seem to recall posting that I am doing exercises, and only getting partial relief. Actually, that’s the reason I started belly dancing in the first place, was for a fun form of exercise to strengthen my muscles and help with the pain.

Anyhoo, if I can’t get approval for medical marijuana, well, I’ve always preferred to err on the side of caution. Two of my coworkers are avowed Pagans. Another is seriously into Feng Shui. They are always doing occultic or feng shui things to get rid of the negative energy around the office and if I’m not in a state of grace, then I won’t have God’s protection in the event that these girls turn some kind of demonic force loose in the office.


#14

Belly dancing is extremely good exercise for the abdominal area. I’ve known some people (very traditional Catholics) who used it for that reason.

Asbestos Mango, I agree with you on the marijuana laws being unjust, sort of like alcohol during Prohibition. (I also think it’s far less harmful than alcohol). I’m not sure of what the Catholic Church’s stance exactly is on unjust law, but I am pretty sure that a lot of priests and other Catholics are somewhat prejudiced against pot.


#15

If you are making only $7k year you may be able to make more by applying for SSDI or SSI. Have you considered filing for either? You may be able to qualify if you can’t work due to pain. Plus, if you getting SSI you can get additional money on public aid, food stamps and medicaid. On SSDI you get medicare within 2 years. For SSI you don’t need the work credits, for SSDI you do need to meet certain criteria regarding your prior work history.

I have chronic pain issues myself. Fibromyalgia, recurrent shoulder bursitis and chronic back problems. I would never use marijuana, even if my glaucoma gets worse! I like being in control of what little brain faculties I have left :smiley:

Have you tried tramalol or Ultracet? This is a little more powerful than anti-inflammatories and may be able to do the trick, or a doctor can order both anti-inflammatories plus tramalol. Tramalol is now generic, so its cheap. There are also nerve pain medications such as Lyrica or Neurontin for nerve pain such as from herniated discs.

Good luck, I hope you get the help you need.


#16

First let me say that I don’t do marijuana and I wouldn’t even if it was legal.

Saying that though, I think many of the objections surronding medical marijuana are silly. If a doctor can prescribe it legally then there should be no question about the morality of the drug. If it can be legally attained then using medical marijuana is no less moral then taking the belly dancing lessons mentioned or the steroid treatments that were also suggested.

Of course a person would have to weigh various other issues the same as when taking any drugs and a person may very well opt to attempt dealing with the pain in a drug free manner. But that has nothing to do with morality or sin so much as the particular situation of the individual.

I know people who get hooked on pain medicine like oxytoxin(is that the right name) and percosate(spelling) due to pain. My mom was addicted to percosat that she acquired from a Dr. I honestly think that pot would have been a better alternative for her.


#17

I have a friend, in college, who was a straight A student, he worked full time, and was a volunteer fire fighter. One day on a call, he herniated a disc in his back. The doctor prescribed him Oxycontin. Within a month, he was shooting heroin, and when he couldnt afford the heroin anymore he was smoking crack. Thank God he got into rehab, and is clean now, but Rx drugs simply because they’re legal, aren’t always good for you.

If you can get the pot legally, have at it, and get some good snacks :slight_smile:


#18

Lets face it, there are numerous drugs to relieve pain that cause more euphoric effects than does marijuana. If used strictly for theraputic purposes I see no problem with it. If a prescription drug is taken just to get high, that would be a sin.


#19

We can have an endless discussion about whether marijuana should be legalized, but the bottom line is this: if you are using marijuana illegally, you must stop now. It is against the law (obviously), and while it may ultimately be an imprudent or even stupid law, it is in no way immoral. It comes from a legitimate authority, all legit authority comes from God, and disobeying legitimate laws by legitimate authorities is disobeying God.

Scott


#20

I too am a long time chronic pain sufferer, especially the lower back. I have had three very painful back surgeries, epidurals for pain control and many other intervention. I also have bursitis and neck pain and fibromyalgia. I would never use marijuna either. I will say that I do understand your pain and the depression it causes. I use to completely immerse myself in prayer and went to many Holy Hours at any Catholic Church I found. When I got home, for I was still single and living with my parents, I would lock myself in my room and lay down on my bed and pray more. I was living a life of a victim soul and offering every pain I had to Jesus in reparation of sins, for souls in purgatory and for the conversion of sinners. This is a great way to offer up your pain and not waste any of it. I too believe in miracles and hoped that the Lord would heal me. I went to many healing services, but never a cure. I am meant to suffer and I do accept it. I am on a pain patch that has little side effects for me. Narcotics give me an upset stomach and insomnia. I do not get the drowsiness. I am on a low dose of Duragesic pain patch and the doctor has tried to increase it, but I couldn’t tolerate it. I did not like morphine and the way I felt. This pain patch only takes very little of the pain away, but it is something. I also have had to give up on the idea of more children. I only have one and she is my little miracle. I am very blessed to have one.

Don’t give up and think that marijuna or any prescribed drug will completely take your pain away. If your pain continues even after medication and other methods, like acupuncture and chiropractic, all which I have tried, it is the will of God for you to suffer for whatever reason he only knows. That is what having pain all these years, 25 years now, have taught me. I thank God for my pain and know and see it as a blessing. I did not in the beginning, but the good Lord has taught me a lot in the years on this subject. I also read many of the saints life who have suffered and how they accept it for the glory of God. Pope John Paul II was a great witness of that.

Continue to do what you are doing and that is praying. What helped me and still does daily is receiving Jesus daily in the Eucharist. Attend Mass daily if you can and stay afterwards to pray. Praying the Rosary is great and I am glad to hear you do that and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Meditating on the Lords passion and death has helped me tremendously as well for he suffered more than I could ever suffer.

I will pray for you for as a pain sufferer who hasn’t gotten much relief with any thing out there, it is difficult at times and we are only human. I have my moments and just cry out for help from Jesus.

Also, have you ever heard of magnet therapy. I am trying that now and it has helped, but I just started. Nikken has the best products, but are expensive. The back brace is my next purchase. I have a cousin who suffers with really back pain and it takes her pain away completely. I have had three surgeries so I don’t expect a cure, but to feel better.


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