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.