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.