Morality of Marijuana Use


For some time now I have been debating with myself and others concerning the morality of marijuana, and I believe the issue is more complicated than many people give credit.

Particularly in the United States, marijuana use is considered to be wrong. Many catholics I have spoken to have gone has far to label it as a sin. To me, this seems more like people allowing themselves to be informed by our national culture rather than our reason.

When I speak to many orthodox, good catholic people, they are very quick to assert the sinfulness of marijuana. When asked why, generally the first answer they give is “Well, it is illegal.” I immediately bring up the issue of abortion, about how that is legal, and I ask them to sincerely consider if they believe the American legal system to be a litmus test for morality. An honest person is forced to respond that no, it is not.

So naturally the next response is, “The Church says it’s a sin.” Of this I am not sure. I know that the CCC has a section against the use of illegal drugs and trafficking, where strong language is used calling it ‘scandelous Christian behavior.’

I have my doubts as to whether or not the Church is referring to any and all illegal drugs. Does this mean that marijuana is a sin to use in the United States and not a sin to use in Jamaica or Holland? Does this also mean that it would have been a sin to consume alcohol in the United States during the 1920’s? Sounds a bit strange, and it also sounds like we would be giving the government undue credit, especially considering the dubious nature of the Marijuana Act in 1937. A great deal of propaganda and downright false information was used to get this bill passed, and I am not sure that the law is just at all, let alone it having an effect on my religious and moral decision making.

In order to get a better picture of the arbitrary nature of the law, when one looks at the physical effects of alcohol versus marijuana, the medical field at large will say that alcohol, particularly when used with excess (which generally would be considered a venial or grave matter, depending on circumstances) is far worse when compared with that of marijuana when used with excess. Alcohol is far worse for the body, being linked to all sorts of cancer, cirrohsis, negative effect on brain function, etc. The list is quite extensive. Now with the use of marijuana, recent studies show that although cannabis has a great deal of carcinogens, it is not actually linked to causing any form of cancer. The one grave illness that seems be possible is emphysema, a terrible condition and one that should not be mentioned likely. As far as a person’s behavior on either drug (because we often forget that alcochol is in fact a drug), one may simply ask a police officer who he would rather deal with, someone who is drunk, or someone who has recently used marijuana. Even the propaganda commercials we see everyday against marijuana show the harmlessness of the people who are using pot (they just sit around is the depiction, though these commercials go further to imply that pot users will not amount to anything and are ruining their lives, complete rubbish)

When used responsibly, both of these drugs have positive effects.
This post is getting lengthy, but I am sure most of us have heard positive effects concerning both drugs.

I have determined that I do not believe pot use to be a sin when used responsibly. I have also considered, however, to be wary around other’s concerning it, because so many catholics have such strong feelings about that it may in fact be scandelous to go around saying “Pot is ok, go for it”. Indeed, I do believe it would be sinful for one to risk going to prison just to have a little fun, particularly if that person has a family to care for. That sort of behavior would be unacceptable.

So, having said ALL that, I really would like some different view points. Thank you.


Sorry, didn’t know how to edit a post. At some point I say concerning emphysema “…not to be mentioned likely”, what I mean was lightly.


It is a sin because we are to be obedient to those in authority over us, not just Church authority but civil governing authority as well, provided it is acting for the common good. Prohibiting the use of an addictive drug is certainly acting in the common good.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

  • Romans 13:1-2

CCC 1897-1903 discusses authority in society.

Obedience to those in authority is also part of the fourth commandment. “Honor your father and your mother” but governing authority is also included in this.

CCC 2238 Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…Live as free men, yet without using your fredom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.” Their loyal collaboration includes the right, and at times the duty, to voice their just criticisms of that which seems harmful to the dignity of persons and to the good of the community.

Read the full section in the Catechism about the fourth commandment for more.


First, I am NOT a user, nor have I ever been, of marijuana. But it is NOT an addictive drug. So to state that prohibiting the use of an additcitve drug is certainly acting in the common good is a legitimate statement, **but it cannot be applied to the use of marijuana!
I’m not even going to begin to suggest that smoking marijuana is safe. There is plenty of medical evidence to suggest it is not. The use of marijuana is also the cause of auto accidents, etc and has the effect of acting like alcohol on drivers, slowing and dulling the reactions and senses.

But we are treading in the land of stupid laws with SOME of our drug laws. SOME of them clearly are based on social acceptability. Not a lot different than gun laws. Most gun laws are based on emotions, not on fact. Heck, here is a photo that shows my daughter’s gun and my gun. I’m sure you can figure out which one is my daughters. I’ve had people tell me that my gun is an assault rifle, but interestingly NOBODY has ever suggested that my daughter’s rifle is an assault rifle. * (by the way, the parts are interchangable)
I look at a lot of drug laws as simply silly and based on emotion rather than fact.

melensdad uploaded this image to


Okay, sorry, the addictive thing was a false assumption on my part, not being a drug user myself or a law enforcement officer who would know these things. But your points of marijuana not being safe, causing car accidents, its effects on people would be why authorities are acting in the common good in making it illegal. So to the original poster, this combined with my first post would be why the Church says using marijuana would be a sin - disobedience to authority.

Nice picture.


Not to mention our bodies are temples for God and we should treat them as such.


But could that same theory then be equally applied to whole milk, butter, palm oil, wine, etc.

At what point does the concept of moderation come into play and a portion of morality? If gluttony is a sin and moderation/self-restraint is to be admired, then what is the “real” harm to the body to eating a few ounces of cheese daily, or drinking a glass of wine with dinner, or smoking a modest amount of marijuana socially?

The same issues can be brought up about wine, beer, etc. Consuming these is not sinful (if it is, then I better slap the beers out of our local priest’s hand at the next picnic or gathering we have at our house). So again, why is marijuana automatically sinful?

I think it falls into the stupid/silly law grouping, along with many of our emotional gun laws.

BTW, I am neither a police officer nor have I ever been a drug user.

My daughter has become the ‘poster child’ for a pro-gun website that is run by an urban woman gun rights advocate, but we are not urban dwellers, the web-mistress just loves my daughter & her pink rifle. The rifle is a multi-caliber, 22lr, 223.


to be honest, i would prefer marijuana to be legal. there are far too many people busting the seams of our prisons and jails because of victimless crimes, while there are pedophiles, rapists and repeat offenders of all sorts of crime out here in their place. i’d rather deal with the neighborhood potheads and their forgetting to mow their lawns, attracting strays(by petting and feeding them), and those crazy window coverings, each window different, be it tie-dye, bob marley, pot leafs or cheech and chong…

yes, those problems are better IMO than having to deal with drunk people getting into fights, throwing up in my lawn, running children over, blasting music at all hours, etc etc etc etc etc…

but IMO the prison industry is big business, and IMO police depts. would probably go near bankrupt if marijuana were legalized.

just IMHO!


Seems to me if marijuana were legalized it could be controlled and regulated in much the same way that tobacco & alcohol is controlled and regulated. It could also be taxed. The stigma as a “gateway” drug would be eliminated, the criminal violence associated with the sale and distribution of it would be eliminated, and it could be sold ‘over the counter’ at tobacco stores or liquor stores. Yes, kids could still “get it” but then again they can get beer now, they can get pot now. So why not at least try to rationalize the control of its sale through some legitimate channel that could allow for some level of quality and purity controls. Let the tobacco companies market it (to adults) under various brand names and blends and let the government tax it like beer or cigarettes. Heck the tax money could even be used to pay for some of the health care costs and to fund rehab clinics.


This is the question that comes to mind for me.

If it is illegal here in the U.S and the church says it is wrong, then it is wrong.O.k i can dig it.

But if I go to Canada and smoke in a legal shop…is it then right for me to smoke?


Okay kiddies, since none of you have ever used pot, allow me to put my two cents worth in. First off, there are 2 types of addiction: physical and psychological. While pot is not physically addictive, it is psychologically addictive for some people. Further, they’ve just done a study showing pot can trigger schizophrenia in some people because it is so much stronger than it was in the summer of love. This doesn’t surprise me because it gave me anxiety attacks. My husband, in his pothead youth, became agorophobic and couldn’t leave his house for three months. And don’t tell me that it doesn’t ruin peoples’ lives. I quit smoking it because i didn’t have the motivation to get through college when i was a daily user. The people i knew who were occasional users got a lot more done than the daily users. I knew a lot more daily users. Most of them had depression. Most of them used other drugs. When you do drugs of any sort, you tend to hang out with others who use and there is an unwholesome lifestyle that usually accompanies it. It has a tendency to keep you in a state of arrested development where you don’t really mature out of adolescence. Cheech and Chong are funny.
I can’t see pot being consistent with a Christian lifestyle. The way it numbs you and kills your motivation just doesn’t seem right. Some people think that drug experiences are like religious experiences (borrowing from some native american traditions) but we don’t believe that. If we did, we’d be getting more than that sip of wine at mass.
If you remove pot from the druggie cultural cxontext it’s evolved into here in the US, it still produces an effect on you that isn’t conducive to holiness. A relaxer drink doesn’t stay with you 3 hours and won’t trigger a panic attack. Furthermore, Jesus never did any recreational drugs in the Bible. He changed water into wine. When in doubt, stick with what you know.
And if you don’t know firsthand what drugs can do to a person, don’t go off saying it’s a myth that pot doesn’t cause people to smoke their lives away.
P.S. If we did legalize pot now, it would not be removed from the cultural context of druggie lifestyle. A lot more people would do it and i think we’d find society with more mental illness, less motivation, and Ben & Jerry’s stock through the roof.


The use of alcohol in the Catholic Church is not a sin. However, it becomes a sin when one drinks enough to lose control of their faculties. If it alters your perception and judgment, that is, if you become intoxicated, it then rises to the level of sin. So, the question is, do you become intoxicated when you use marijuana? If so, that alone makes it a sin. Many people go out and enjoy a single glass of wine or beer with no ill effects. How many people do you think smoke marijuana without the intention of feeling the effects?


Again with arguments presented here it seems like we are looking at emotion based laws and morality that does not seem evenly applied to similar drugs. We should, if we are to be intellectually and morally just, go back to the days of prohibition, should we not?

[quote="Rolltide]The use of alcohol in the Catholic Church is not a sin. However, it becomes a sin when one drinks enough to lose control of their faculties. If it alters your perception and judgment, that is, if you become intoxicated, it then rises to the level of sin.

Ahhhh . . . but if it was legalized and regulated then the strength could be controlled by the FDA so it could be made such that it was the equivalent of a glass of wine or a tankard of beer. It should also be noted that many doctors would suggest that EVEN 1 BEER or JUST 1 GLASS OF WINE is enough to alter your perceptions and judgment.

While I chose to never use the drug, my roommates in college did use it. I would say that the heavier users were gross underachievers, but legal or not, they were underachievers. If it were legalized, regulated and taxed it would at least have some positive effect on society, via the taxation/collection and redistribution of the taxes to positive ends.

Mind you, I am not in favor of drug use, even a mild drug like marijuana. But if we are going to look at the logical comparisons then we need to make logical arguments for or against the moral use of all similar drugs.

More curious to me is what is the position of the US Bishops versus the position of the Canadian Bishops based on the differences in the laws of the various nations?


Boy, I’ve seen this so many times, I wonder why it keeps coming up. Responsible marijuana use? Why are you using it? Let’s not compare it to other drugs, just ask yourself why you would use it and why it should be legal.

Marijuana is a gateway drug. I’m not suggesting you’ll try crack next but other drugs come to mind. A friend of mine who just got out of jail for selling pills at a rave told me the first things suburban kids ask for is the dope. The rave is as much about getting high as it is about music.

As far as Assault Rifle, what do the letters in AR-15 stand for?

I’ve attempted, in the past, to present evidence of the harmful effects of marijuana use from the government but proponents usually call it **** and refuse to consider it.

It should not be legal and it is not good. It harms the body which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. I’m against smoking and alcohol use also.

Medical marijuana seems to be the only exception.

God bless,


The fact that pot effects people’s driving and operating heavy machinery is irrelevant. So do many types of cough medicine.

The Church makes no official stand on the use of marijuana.

Those saying that because the government says it’s wrong make is sin enough is also, to me, fallacious, because as I said, if the government were the litmus test of morality, then abortion would moral.

For people who think it should be illegal because it can ‘cause’ schizophrenia, this is a complete misunderstanding. Psychotropic drugs, like marijuana, do not cause schizophrenia, it accelerates people to having symptoms that are already latent schizophrenics, in other words, they already had the disorder, it simply had not manifested itself yet.

Also, as far as making a distinction between physical and psychological addiction, and that marijuana is bad because some people can be psychologically addicted, that seems to be rubbish, since anything from video games to eating chocolate to watching movies can be addictive in a psychological fashion. Alcohol can be both physically and psychologically addictive, and yet it is legal, and it should be legal (if it’s good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me). The fact that some people misuse it, the fact that some people drive after smoking it is all irrelevant. Responsible, moderate use of pot is not harmful to the health anymore then eating 2 eggs a week is harmful.

The poster above this, Ed, plainly poses the question, “Ask yourself why do you use marijuana.” I plainly ask, “Why do you watch a football game, eat a bag of chips, or drink a beer?” Because they are enjoyable activities, and their is nothing wrong with any of them. Pot is like alcohol - you don’t have to use it until you pass out on the couch.

Once again I reiterate, pot in the United States is the universal exception to our legal system and human reason. We accept so many thing as being good if used in moderation, except for marijuana. Why? My contention is that we’ve all been told it is wrong for so long that we believe it, and the reasons for believing it are invented far later down the line.


Why not compare it to wine, beer or scotch? Why are those used by most people?

Yes, in an illegal setting it is exactly that. If the stigma and illegality were removed, as with alcohol, then it would logically no longer be a gateway drug.

Clearly you do NOT know the answer to your question. AR stands for Armalite, the name of the company that produced the first rifles and held the right to the Eugene Stoner gas operated modular rifle design. The first common commercial AR was the AR-10. It is significantly more powerful than the more common AR-15. Let’s also not forget that the AR-15 is not a military weapon, nor is the “AR” designation even used by the military.

The civilian AR weapons are functionally different from the military’s “M” weapons. They simply look similar. They evoke an emotional response from those who oppose them, despite their mechanical differences.

Clearly, those who have problems with the AR name, or rifles of that pattern are making judgments from a position of some level of ignorance of fact. As I stated before, emotion rules over facts all too often. It might even come as a surprise, but AR pattern rifles are the most commonly sold rifles in North America today and the fastest growing style of rifles purchased for hunting. They are now available in over a dozen common calibers and many more wildcat and/or obscure calibers.

I don’t pretend to defend marijuana, in fact I clearly believe it is unhealthy. I don’t even think its a good idea to use it. But I don’t understand how marijuana can be illegal & immoral when alcohol is both legal & moral.


I am a former stoner. I stayed high for years. Every day, every night, for years. I did lots of various jobs completely stoned and I did them well. I was in the US Army. I was hired high, took all my tests high and I remained high for my entire 7 year stint (minus basic training, 2 months). I held a Top Secret SSBI security clearance and worked in a highly secretive job. I went to my E6 promotion board high. I scored a 196 (that’s out of 200 for ya‘all unfamiliar). I changed the security keys on military satellites that communicated with our subs for nuclear launch and I did it completely stoned. I did everything stoned, road marches, PT tests, command inspections, day to day duties, everything. I have a wall full of commendations, ribbons and medals.

I have been clean for 8 years. I have no plans to pick it back up. If it were legal I might. Since it’s not, and I do try to be a good citizen, I don’t.


Social interaction is affected by many factors. Using illegal drugs should have a stigma attached to it. Taking such unnecessary risks is wrong. And it is immoral.

Prohibition was attempted with alcohol since its dangers were obvious, not the least of which was husbands beating up their wives. It wasn’t until Mothers Against Drunk Driving that current enforcement against people who drink irresponsibly went up to the point where people feel stigmatized enough.

It doesn’t matter how often people bring up the what’s the big deal with marijuana issue, it always comes back to “people should be allowed to do what they want to do.” And people are doing whatever they want to do all over the planet right now. If a bill came up to legalize marijuana in any form with the possible exception of limited medical use, I would vote against it. I would encourage others to vote against it. Being wasted all the time on booze or high on marijuana is evil, no matter how functional you can be while in such a state. The Bible contains verses against drunkenness.

Here’s what the Surgeon General has to say:

And yeah, I got the AR thing wrong.

God bless,


I believe my points are being missed?

I never said that people should be allowed to do what they want to do. I never suggested there was any benefit to marijuana, or that it was anything but unhealthy.

My sole arguments revolve around the comparisons between alcohol and marijuana, if marijuana was sold in a controlled and regulated manner. I simply do not understand the logic of why some people suggest it is IMMORAL to use, in a recreational manner and occasional manner, marijuana if it is MORAL to use alcohol in a similar way.

Consequently, if it is MORAL to use alcohol in an occasional and recreational manner, then why is it not moral to also use marijuana? Logically it would be moral if used similarly. If it is moral, then why is it illegal?

Consider NICOTINE via a tobacco delivery system. Nicotine is addictive. While chewing tobacco and smoking tobacco are both generally unhealthy, many people use them in moderation with no related disease issues* (both of my parents are fine examples). *Nicotine is also a mind altering drug, it is known to induce relaxation and reduce stress (seems a lot like modest amounts of both alcohol and marijuana).

It is legal + moral to use tobacco/nicotine.

It is legal + moral to use alcohol.

So why is it illegal + immoral to use marijuana?

I still contend that the main reason that marijuana is a ‘gateway’ drug is because it is illegal and that is the main cause of the stigma associated with it. It is also hugely profitable for criminals and legalizing it and regulating it can remove the illegal profits, wipe out that part of the drug industry, regulation can guarantee the quality and potency of the marijuana and reap huge tax revenues at the same time.


Prohibition was attempted with alcohol since its dangers were obvious, not the least of which was husbands beating up their wives. It wasn’t until Mothers Against Drunk Driving that current enforcement against people who drink irresponsibly went up to the point where people feel stigmatized enough.

People beat up their wives dead sober, you don’t have to be high. If one is going to make claims such as “Pot makes people violent” it should be backed up with verifiable sources. The fact is, the same exact reasoning was used to make alcohol illegal.

The fact that pot is even illegal makes it an unjust law. In order for alcohol to be made illegal, an amendment to the constitution of the United States had to be made. Politicians found a loophole by saying it is ‘possession’ of marijuana that is illegal, thus taking advantage of Interstate Highway laws.

As far as believing government researchers, one must understand that U.S. government researchers aren’t the only ones studying the effects of marijuana. The fact is that scientists and doctors the world over agree that the harmful effects of pot have been exaggerated. Not to mention the fact that government researchers know their pay check is dependent upon what sort of “results” they discover.

To point to the abuse of a drug as a reason to say it’s illegal is a logical fallacy at best. There are a millions of perfectly good things that if abused turn bad. Eating a boat load of bacon every day will give you a heart attack, that doesn’t make using bacon illegal. As I stated before, people make illogical exceptions for the illegality of pot because they have been raised to believe it is wrong.

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