Frustrating confession. Validity?

I had a very frustrating confession today.

I live in a state where marijuana is legal. At my last confession, a priest and I agreed that in a legal setting, used in extreme moderation for relaxation ONLY (not “getting high”), and done in a way that is not unhealthy, that it is possible to use marijuana as one might use alcohol without sinning mortally (although he said that it might be a venial sin to seek out that feeling through marijuana).

Anyway, I almost never use it (twice in the last year), and the last time I used it, I took a bite of a pot cookie and it turned out to be a little to intense for my taste. This was an accident. So I confessed this to a different priest this time and he basically said that all use of marijuana is a serious sin and that even drinking alcohol to relax is wrong. WHAT???

So I argued with him for awhile, saying that I wasn’t sure I should even be absolved since I was not resolved NEVER to use it again for mild relaxation because there are no health risks and people use all sorts of substances to produce a physical effect (chamomile tea to sleep, coffee to become alert, etc.) and that if one uses marijuana in a healthy way without the intent to get high or lose one’s ability to reason, that it should be the same as drinking alcohol.

Well, he was adamant and I dare say misinformed about the health effects of it. We all know that alcohol is much worse for you than small amounts of marijuana and that even smoking cigarettes is not mortally sinful and those are terrible for you!

Anyway, he basically said that unless one needs it for anxiety, it is a sin (and a serious one at that). Well, I told him I had heard conflicting things from other priests and I asked him if it might not be up to the individual conscience since the Vatican has not spoken definitively on it. He cited the Catechism’s passage on drugs (which I always took to mean crack, heroin, pills, etc., not pot, alcohol and cigarettes).

I told him that I DO have anxiety (which is true) and he said that it might be ok then and then granted me absolution.

My questions are these:

I do have anxiety, but I did not really mean to intimate that I use pot to “cope” with it. On the extremely rare occasion that I do it, it is to generally relax and have fun with my husband on the couch with a couple of drinks. Nothing crazy, not getting wasted. So I didn’t really mean to imply that I am dependent on this for relief from panic attacks or anything. As I said, I rarely use it, but I can’t say I am “resolved” never to use it again because I don’t think that using it in such a way is a mortal sin any more than using alcohol to relax is one. So I guess I am asking if my absolution seems like a valid one? Or if the idea that it may have been implied that I use it for anxiety might make it invalid?

I didn’t intend for it to come off that way-I just sort of realized later that it may have seemed like I use it to cope with anxiety, which isn’t true.

2.) I am TIRED of getting conflicting information from different priests!
Who do I believe? One thinks pot is the devil and the other thinks it is a venial matter if done just for feelings of well-being. If I have to resolve never to commit a mortal sin again for a valid confession, I need to know what the heck a mortal sin is?

How can I give a valid confession if I don’t even know what to resolve not to do?

Is my confession invalid because I didn’t resolve never to use marijuana again? Or is it valid because it really isn’t a serious sin anyway?

Sorry for the long post, I’m just confused as to who to believe and how to approach the confession of such things going forward.

Thanks :slight_smile:

Instead of seeking drugs to cope with your problems, why not pray? Pray a novena to overcome this. Do you not remember that anything is possible with God? Jesus can wipe away your anxiety by visiting him in the Blessed Sacrament. The best thing you should is to not even get near any marijuana. Do not consume it in any way, shape or form. Stay away from pot, period. Do you not realize, that you wouldn’t be having this issue if you just stayed away from pot all together? Just stay away and you won’t worry about it, it’s that simple! Someone who relies on substances, whether it’s pot, alcohol or cigarettes, will probably eventually grow attached to it, seeking it whenever they feel down, or feel anxiety or are faced with life’s issues and problem’s etc.
You must pray, pray and pray, not do drugs.

Since you told Fr. that you were not resolved not to use it again, and he absolved you anyhow, yes, you are forgiven.

My understanding is that use of pot is a sin. I don’t use it and never will; but I am just a sinner.

To your question, the only way you can be sure of not getting confusing confessions is to pick a confessor and stick to him, unless you need an “emergency absolution” or are travelling. This has the advantage that he gets to know you and can help you overcome your sins.


You have priests all across the political spectrum, likewise you have priests with all kinds of ideas about all kinds of ideas. You’ll probably get a concensus on very obvious matters: one night stands in bars, friends with benefits, plotting to kill your dad, wanting to go on a killing spree and killing yourself, getting your girlfriend pregnant (sin), forcing her to get an abortion (sin), paying for the abortion with a check when you have 0 dollar in the check account (The worker deserves his wages—>sin). Apart from the very obvious stuff, and even at that if you look hard enough you’ll find priest with unorthodox views, your mileage may vary. Jesus probably got mildly drunk at Cana, I doubt your two joints a year and your marijuana cookie (hmm, must have been yummy:p) faze him, to be honest.

The Gospel does not say He got drunk at Cana.


As far as marijuana goes I think the only moral implication is where it is illegal. I have never used marijuana, but believe it is no worse than alcohol and tobacco and should be legalized and taxed. That being said, I find it morally questionable when “law abiding” middle class people buy and use the drug with no repercussions, while small time dealers are filling courts and jails. So, for me, using in an illegal drug has greater moral implications.

As far as the church goes, I think the priest you encountered may have been a bit over the top. As far as alcohol goes, just point out that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine. Pope Benedict is the man in the middle of the photo below. The man on the left is Karl Rahner, one of the greatest twentieth century theologians.

But somebody did because that poor couple ran out of wine a lot sooner than they expected.

Mid eastern weddings have dozens of guests (the “families” being far larger than in NA). And they got together for days, not hours.

So yeah, folks got trashed, but almost certainly not Him.


I don’s use drugs to cope with my problems. There are about 3 hours a week during which I am awake and my kids are asleep. During those hours, I like to have a few drinks with my husband and maybe watch a movie. I have used marijuana twice in 12 months, and I do not like to get “high”. I like to relax for a couple of hours. I don’t see the moral difference between alcohol and marijuana where this is concerned, except that this priest said even using alcohol to relax is wrong, which completely goes against everything I have ever heard, including from the Bible.

Is something a mortal sin just because a priest says it is, even when the Church has remained relatively silent on the matter? Am I obligated under the pain of mortal sin or an invalid confession to avoid something that the priest believes to be a mortal sin when I have heard conflicting things from another priest?

This is why I am annoyed and confused. I really prayed today to have a good confession that would give me peace, as I do have anxiety and some scrupulosity, and what I got was even more confusion.

I think God recognizes our human need to relax and feel good from time to time using the things he put on the earth in moderation. Alcohol has been used and even manufactured by Catholics for centuries to this end.

This is my understanding as well. I do believe that it is easier to get “out of control” with marijuana, since so little produces an effect, but that seems to be a dosage issue, not an issue of whether or not using a substance to achieve mild feelings of relaxation and well-being is immoral. Clearly that is not the case, or alcohol, cigarettes, etc. would also be immoral.

I don’t get it. It was like this priest just finished watching “Reefer madness” and took it to heart.

I mean, at what point am I permitted to use my own conscience as a guide? Am I required under pain of mortal sin to believe everything a priest says even if it contradicts what another priest has told me? Am I not absolved because that priest clearly thinks that unless you use it for anxiety, marijuana is a serious sin and i don’t use it for that even though it may have come across that way? I was certainly not resolved never to use it again for relaxation purposes and it is my personal understanding that this is not a mortal sin. Or does it actually have to be taught as a serious sin by the Church to affect absolution?

Cute picture by the way :slight_smile:

If you are using this for anxiety or medical reasons, don’t even bother confessing it.

I am not one to use drugs or drink as a rule. (I average about 2 drinks a year.) But I have no problem with people needing to use “pot” for medical reasons or even “to relax.” In fact, I would trust being around someone smoking a joint than someone totally plastered. I do think it is better to stay away from both, but it is extreme for people to go around acting like it is a drastic sin.

If you can’t handle liquor well don’t drink.
If you can’t handle “a little weed” well don’t smoke.
If you do get a little high or tipsy don’t drive.

I really think there are more significant problems to worry about. And it has been discovered that when “street drugs” are decriminalized or legalized and make available to those who will use the rate of use DOES NOT GO UP, CRIME DOES GO DOWN. I would rather people get this stuff in a safer environment than one riddled with pushers and violent individuals and criminal elements.

Um, no.

The changing laws of the land never effect the sinful nature of an act. Legal doesn’t mean sinless. Abortion is legal yet it isn’t sinless. If smoking weed was a sin while it was illegal and you confessed it, then it still is a sin now that you live in a state where it is legal. The state cannot change the nature of sin ever.

About your confession. Arguing with the priest in the Confession is another sin. And you are correct that since you had no resolution to not do that particular sin anymore, then it wasn’t a good confession. But that in itself doesn’t invalidate the Sacrament. Your non-repentance does. Invalidity of a Sacrament has several factors, form and matter. Then there is the notion of illicitness. That is another matter altogether.

Does that help?



Thanks for the response.

You are right and wrong. Legality does not equal morality. However, if something were immoral BECAUSE of it’s illegality, then the legalization of that thing would in fact make it moral to partake. Only if something were INTRINSICALLY immoral would that thing continue to be immoral if it were legalized. I do not believe that the intrinsic immorality of marijuana use has been established.

Regarding my confession, it would be invalid if I was unrepentant of a mortal or serious sin. If the thing in question were merely a venial sin or no sin at all, then a lack of repentance would not invalidate it.

Also, I have never heard nor do I believe that arguing with a priest is a sin.

So my question is this: With the original priest who told me that marijuana could be consumed without mortal sin, the intent to use a small amount of marijuana in the future would not invalidate a confession, yet with a priest who views all use of marijuana as a mortal sin, the same confession would be invalid? This seems problematic.

Which of the 10 commandments does the twice a year use of marijuana break? I don’t believe that one can mortally sin without expressly breaking one of the commandments. Thing is with drugs, smoking ten joints a day will lead you to sin, guaranteed. If some priest says marijuana use for recreational purposes is intrinsically evil, let him back it up with something that doesn’t come out of his hat. Hint: he can’t.

DoNotWorry: I was all ready to give you a new-age “of course all drugs are equal” until you revealed you are using while you have children and you’re smoking it while they are in your home.

Sorry! Now I don’t buy the “oh I only do it to relax” adage.

Um, you don’t have to “buy” anything. I live in a state where marijuana use is legal. I do not and would NEVER smoke anything in my home. I have a marijuana cookie. I took one bite a week ago and hadn’t used it before that since last April. Yes, I have children. Is it not ok to drink wine or even have a party where people are drinking alcohol with children present? And I am talking about doing all of this while my children are safely snug in their beds asleep and hubby and I are watching movies on the couch.

You might want to read about the student that “fell” to his death after eating a pot cookie.

Of course as you say, your children are asleep, so they wouldn’t have to be witness to something like that. Living with the aftermath would be a different story.

Can we just agree that people should not take 10 TIMES the normal dose of ANYTHING? A legal marijuana cookie contains approximately 100 mg of active THC. that is enough to get 10 people very high. Try drinking enough vodka for 10 people, enough NyQuil for 10, taking enough aspirin for 10, drinking enough COFFEE for 10 and see how you react. Just because a person cannot consume an unlimited amount of something without negative effects does not make it intrinsically immoral to use, does it?

I do agree that it is terribly irresponsible for these cookies to be sold with no indication of how much is a normal “dose”. One would wrongly assume that one cookie is equal to one dose. I feel just awful for that poor kid, because I have high anxiety, and I know how too much marijuana can exacerbate that.

Hello DoNot.

No, the Church has not been silent on this issue. Far from it. Here is the Catechisms remarks on pot and other drugs:
2291 The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

Why do you think some Sisters from Maryknoll were killed in Central America in recent years? Have you not seen in the news the massive amounts of human carnage that pot alone has left in it’s wake in Mexico? There are things called drug cartels and they are extremely dangerous. You’d have to be blind and deaf to not hear about such stuff as it is in the news nearly every report you hear.

No. I’m sorry but every cent you spend on pot helps those in the drug cartels. It would be the same thing as dropping a few cents in the kettle if Planned Parenthood were standing outside your grocery store collecting donations to kill little babies. In Mexico whole families get wiped out. Murdered. For telling on others or simply to hide routes when DEA gets too close. It isn’t only Cocaine that they are trafficking in. Think about what you’re saying when you say pot is harmless. Please for your children’s sakes, find another healthier way to relax. Try praying the Rosary with your hubby instead of the wine and movies. Or before the wine and movies. And who needs wine anyway? Your hubby should be enough.


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