Christians Smoking Pot?

In response to When Jesus, Drugs, and Lawrence Welk Collide, a reader wrote me to ask: “What’s your view on Christians smoking pot? Because the Bible never actually references it, and it is a natural thing given to the earth. Just wondering.”

In my return email, I wrote

My view on Christians smoking pot is the same as it is on anyone smoking pot, which is that weed is a good thing to avoid altogether, since it’s as addicting as any other psychoactive drug, and has the effect of making its users narcissistic and emotionally immature.

And I might as well add this, since I’m sure it’ll come up: Rastafarians do, in fact, point to the Bible’s Psalm 104:14 as divine inspiration for smoking pot:  “He causeth . . . herb [to be grown] for the service of man … .”

So, you know. That’s close enough for stoners.

I think weed is seriously bad news. I live in small southern California beach town, and what seems to be its entire population of young people (not to mention its aging hippie population) has been absolutely ravaged by weed. Which is no different from the exact effect I’ve seen it have on every one of the zillions of people I’ve known throughout my life who have regularly smoked it.

Whatever emotional age you were when you started smoking pot is the emotional age at which you remain arrested until you stop smoking pot. That’s a fact, and it’s all the reason anyone should ever need to avoid pot like the severely addictive personality thief it is. (Though of course that barely stops anyone. Everyone thinks they drive perfectly fine while drunk or talking on their cell phone; everyone who smokes pot thinks it doesn’t really negatively affect them at all. That’s the seductive hook of addiction: it makes every addict feel like their relationship to the state of being high is unique, and special, and oh so wonderfully magical.)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://jerrisblog.blogspot.com Jerri Harrington

    I mean I couldn't agree more with your post, John!

  • Jennifer

    To Mean White Cat On FB- Wow! That was completely uncalled for. John- I admire your ability to answer openly and respond maturely- even though I know what you really want to say. Not just to this post but to many.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Well, what an awfully sweet thing to say. Thank you! (For you non-Facebookers who apparently have a life: a fan o' mine, on my Facebook fan page, responded to this post with the comment, "maybe if more christians smoked pot they would have less time to meddle and pontificate in other peoples lives!" To which I answered, "Well, let's not confuse issues." Which Jennifer thought was an admirably mature response. Which … I won't argue with, because how often do I get called admirable and mature?)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1247231691 Mean White Cat

      HUH?

  • http://www.facebook.com/missmgmnt Shannon

    My boyfriend smokes pot and he's a Christian – very biblically learned – but I've got to say I tend to agree that it should be avoided if it's only being used for recreation (which is why he uses it). It makes him all lazy and boring (and chubby and hungry) and it's a turn off… one I don't hesitate to share with him. Now if he had cancer or some other ailment, feel free to puff away if it alleviates what ails ya – otherwise it's just a total bringdown for everyone else in the room! JMO!

  • Allen

    Although John's generalizations were rather broad, I have seen evidence to support his opinions. I live in the Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco, so I get a chance to see pot smokers daily.

    To <> cloud the issue, I recommend the film "Humboldt County" which shows the toll pot takes both on users and on growers. Not preachy, as it were, but certainly doesn't glamorize it either.

    That psalm, by the way, clearly refers to dill, although some scholars translate it as "oregano".

  • Allen

    Shaw, thanks for getting us away from generalizations about who smokes pot. I admit, it's stoner culture I'm reacting to for the most part.

    Poor John — how can he answer a question like "Should Christians Smoke Pot?" which is an incredibly general question? "Should Christians *insert action here*?" is never quite answerable in universal generalizations.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Not much is, is it? A huge part of what I do every day is post something, try to be at once as broad and definite about it as I have time, space, and talent to be—and then wait to come in all the ways in which I've failed to properly address or acknowledge all the exceptions to whatever I've said. But it's cool; I like it, because it allows for a much more comprehensive discussion of the topic at hand than I'd ever have a chance to lay out in a 500-word blog post. And I'm still convinced I've got about the highest quality of commenters of any blog out there. I hardly ever get anything purely snarky; it's mostly top-notch stuff (or pure love, basically, which of course I … love).

      So there's that … complete tangent.

      • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

        Or in my case purely loving snarkyness.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Nah, you're never snarky. You're too classy for that.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com Odgie

    Do we really want our pastors forgetting their sermons and munching Doritos during communion? :)

    (and yes, I did post this same comment on FB)

    • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

      Wait … my pastor pretty much does that already.

      (Just kidding, in case he's reading this …)

  • Mandi

    I cannot tell you how much enjoyment your blog titles bring me! When I saw this one on Facebook I had to stop doing schoolwork immediately….

    How do you feel about drinking alcohol? While being more physically addicting than pot, alcohol also produces a high (or low) that can be addicting.

    What about medicinal marijuana? Is a Christian with cancer okay to use pot during chemo? I think that is fine, since loss of appetite can lead to the body being further weakened.

    Being from Cali myself, I also know what a joke it is to get a prescription for pot. Way too easy!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      You some wonderful questions. Which deserve wonderful answers. Which I don’t even almost have time to parse through.

      Well, quickly: Thanks for compliment; yes, alcohol certainly is addicting; I think medical marijuana certainly has its place.

      Oh—well, that didn’t actually take long at all.

      Thanks for writing!

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    Damn it John, you know I love you but you have once again failed to acknowledge my position on pot (assuming you include me in the category of “everyone who smokes pot.”)

    I have repeatedly said to you that I think smoking pot does both positively and negatively affect me. Its positive effects include but are not limited to stress reduction, improved mental outlooks, artistic appreciation, and improvement in my IBS (I know, TMI.) Its negative effects include but are not limited to a reduction in motivation, increased appetite (not a medical benefit in my case tho it is for some), and contributing to my sedentary (as opposed to igneous) lifestyle.

    I have made the conscious calculation and decision that the positives outweigh the negatives during my off-time (no, not at work) and that I enjoy consuming cannabis with or without a doctor’s approval (though I do have one).

    It is rather annoying that you continue to cling to your prejudice that all pot smokers are in complete denial about the negative implications of cannabis use as a way of justifying your pro-prohibition stand.

    That said, you know I love ya.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Brian: What’s “IBS”? Inability to bullshit? That IS a good benefit of pot!

      I’ve got no argument for/with you. If you say you’re fully aware and in control of all the effects pot does or doesn’t have on you and your life, who in the world am I to argue it? What kind of dick would I be to dare think I know more about your very personal “conscious calculations” than you do? That’s all strictly your business. I respect you, and so at the very least respect your … natural boundaries.

      Also (for what it’s worth) I’m not (necessarily) pro-prohibition. Whole other set of considerations.

      • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

        IBS is the ebonics version of my initials.

        Not to push the point too much, but in the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “there you go again” with words like “fully aware” of “all the effects” when I very carefully used the term “include but are not limited to” which would not lend themselves to the “all” statements you tend to prefer.

        I’m sure there’s no connection between your belief in God and your absolutist language and my agnosticism and relativistic language.

        Still lovin’ ya.

        Brian

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Yes; by “include but not limited to,” I assumed you were indicating that you WERE aware of all the other effects you were choosing not to bother listing. I was trying to give you credit for the full breadth and depth of your own knowledge about yourself.

          I take particular pride, actually, in avoiding absolutist language. What you may find of it has, I promise, nothing to do with my belief in God, and everything to do with the limitations of the blog format.

          • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

            I'm not aware of "all" of anything. Don't think it's possible for anyone to be.

      • Bria LaPoint

        Irratble bowel syndrome i think.

  • http://jerrisblog.blogspot.com Jerri Harrington

    I couldn’t agree more!

  • http://steveinmarines.blogspot.com steve

    Damn it, Brian, your rebuke was compelling until that last paragraph. “Cling to your prejudice”? That’s the clichéest thing ever. Why don’t you turn his own typification of stoners against him? Just because one feels like the pot is making one immature doesn’t mean it really is, or that it has that effect on everybody. And how sure can one be that the flaws of the people one knows were caused by pot? The reasons you gravitate toward certain people are often unknown, but those people you gravitate toward tend to have things in common. Those things could be personality flaws and pot smoking. How can you be sure you’ve isolated pot as the cause?

    Damn it John, I seem to have this vague notion about pot smokers that I’ve developed from my limited experience. Based on that, your analysis rings true and more detailed than mine. Can you go into their terrible personality flaws some more? It seems to me that they get a strange inflated sense of seriousness when they’re sober, kind of opposite of the drug’s effects, as if they’ve built a tolerance. Do you agree?

  • Bruce

    Isn't getting stoned a form of sorcery? You know, "pharmakeus?" That's pretty roundly poo-pooed in Scripture, no?

  • http://soiledwings.com Sherry Meneley

    Just started following this blog a couple weeks ago. Love your realistic take on things.

    As for Pot? I agree with your view. … just wanted to say so.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thank you for this, very much. (And you have a really nice blog. Good work there.)

  • http://shawmakesmusic@gmail.com Shaw

    First, the defense: From what I’ve seen, weed has never killed anyone. You can’t overdose on it, although it can be extremely uncomfortable. More people die from coffee every year, let alone tobacco and alcohol. More people die from the complications of eating too much or watching too much television.

    So we can talk about personality effects, but from what I’ve seen the worst of them is mediocrity. At least you don’t beat your wife when you smoke pot. At least you don’t die of lung cancer. At least you don’t get a nasty ulcer.

    As far as positive effects… well, for some reason, the psychoactive properties are very stimulating to mind-oriented people… artists, intellectuals, often even businessmen. The Beatles and Mark Zuckerburg are nice examples. We can make a good argument that if marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone physically, and effects everyone in a different way mentally, and is used by people across the social spectrum for reasons across the reasonable spectrum that it’s probably not a bad thing, if used responsible, and at worst it is an indulgence and not a sin.

    The obvious Christian thing here would have nothing to do with scripture, and it’s the exact same thing for gay people. God made gay people, so obviously they have a right to exist. God made marijuana, so obviously it has a right to exist. I think it makes a lot of sense, and its almost too bad Christians don’t embrace Darwinism because it has some great explanations for why and how THC is used by the plant, and how beneficial to society it is to have non-reproducing humans that would make it easier to make a statement to the contrary.

    I think we need to let go of the judgments of other people for whatever they do. Judgments about stoners are based on unfounded stereotypes. Grouping all “stoners” into a group is just like grouping all Christians. You can’t group all cigarette smokers and say they are the same way. You can’t group all social drinkers, either.

    The one thing about weed is that there is definitely “weed culture” but this has more to do with people just looking for something to be a part of and identify with than actually doing the drug. Many more people than you would think probably smoke privately, but its just the ones who sit on the beach and advertise their stonerness who stand out.

    Most people I know who smoke pot think weed culture is bullcrap though. Only the people who are really attached to the identity bother with the High Times and huge bongs and Bob Marley posters.

    One more thing, regarding laziness. Some people are lazy. The kind of person who can smoke weed and sit on a couch could probably also just sit on a couch. Some people are motivated. The kind of person who smokes weed and writes a great song could probably just sit down and write a great song. For someone who smokes every day it is like a cigarette– not the thing to do, but the thing to do in between. For someone who smokes once in a while, its a much more intense and psychadelic experience, perhaps an enhancement to the thing already being done. The kind of person who gets high to just get high and sit around has something deeper going on.

    Also, if we taxed it and released offenders on pot-related crimes we could erase most of our deficit in California overnight, in addition to causing a major blow to the massive gang-based growing operations that are starting to creep up on the US in general.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Shaw, do you smoke pot?

      • Shaw

        Hey John, I was Googling my name and yours to try and find my comment on one of your posts re “gay christians” and I came back to this, apologies for being a little late. I used to smoke pot but I stopped entirely for various reasons, money and willpower being number 1 and number 2.

        Food for thought, if I smoked a cigarette I would certainly get sick and throw up.

    • Levi Brinkerhoff

      I smoked pot for about 5 years on a daily basis. I'm generally not a lazy person (unless I have a day off) and am a musician. Weed didn't improve my music, it actually took away my desire to play. Also, you said "…and at worst it is an indulgence and not a sin." Indulgence is sin.

      • Shaw

        Re your last sentence, tell that to the pre-Protestant church.

      • AJ

        “at worst it is an indulgence and not a sin. Indulgence is sin.” – God damn, what a sentence.

        Fdkdkd genius.

  • Claudia S

    This has been very interesting to read. And for my two cents I'll say that I think that every person's ground state of being, uninfluenced by stimulants, is their truest state of being. And I'm implying better.

    Of course I can argue against myself that my definition of "stimulants" is narrow and limited, because everything around us could be considered a stimulant in some way. Is it fair to distinguish between, I don't know, ingested stimulants (like pot) and other sorts (like… TV)? It seems reasonable to me, but I could be wrong.

    The thing I wonder is, are you still the same you when you're stoned? Or are you in some fundamental way different? I mean, if you think and feel and respond differently, and if thinking and feeling and responding can be considered part of what makes you the unique individual you are, then how many you's are there each time you smoke pot, and which is the real one? I've never tried it myself (and never will), being by nature a uh… goody-two-shoes. (I must be, I guess, given the number of people who've told me so, usually when I tell them I'll pass on the joint, or the drink, or whatever). So I'm just wondering aloud here.

    That said I want to tell Shaw – good argument! Really good. Regardless of whether I agree or not, I thought it was well-articulated and well thought out. I love a good argument.

    And you're right John – I think your commenters are all very high class. And if this comment is somewhat less than top-notch I think I'll use tiredness as my excuse. Forgive me. Much love to everyone out there in the ether!

  • textjunkie

    Yeah, I used to think that potheads were doomed to a life of laziness and immaturity, given what I saw in my teenage years. As I've followed up with people, though, it seems more like whether they were pot smokers or not, some people are lazy and immature, and some people have productive, creative lives.

    Kinda like drinking alcohol. Some people destroy their lives with it, others can enjoy it in moderation without losing any of their grounding in life, and still others think it's nasty and don't see why anyone drinks it.

  • Hjordes

    "Whatever age you were when you started smoking pot is the age you remain until you stop."

    Exactly. Same with heavy drinking. That's why you meet so many adults with an emotional quotient of -adolescence. =P

    If that fact alone doesn't make a person develop serious avoidance behavior I don't know what will.

  • Tony Huisman

    Hi

    Thanks for posting your views on this. I'm a Christian myself, and do a considerable amount of research on marijuana, and I'm interested to hear what other Christians think of the subject.

    I'm on the pro-marijuana side, as with a little investigation, you can find the use of cannabis in the Bible. The word "calamus" in the KJV (Exodus 30:23 is one passage it is mentioned) is derived from a Hebrew word – use a concordance to find the word 'calamus' is 'kaneh' in Hebrew. It's cannabis. It was used as an ingredient in anointing oils and used as incense in worship ceremonies. Seems Christians have kept quiet about this as the drug war is still going.

    Keep in mind also, that the word 'drug' is just slapped onto marijuana. It is actually an herb. It becomes a drug when modified by humans and put into pills such as Marinol.

    Marijuana isn't an addictive substance like you said and users find it quite easily to put it down altogether. The statement that it has a very addictive nature is just drug propaganda floating around from the middle of the century. I smoke and/or consume it a few times a month for both recreational and medicinal purposes and don't suffer any withdrawals or cravings in between the times I don't use it. I also do not know anyone else personally who is high every hour of the day, so it is unfortunate that you live in an area where people are blatantly abusing the substance and further giving marijuana a bad rap that it doesn't deserve.

    I'm sure you may be interested to know how i personally use marijuana.

    Mostly, I use it to relax. Usually on Friday night after a long week of work.

    I also use it as a painkiller (when I am at home). I personally have found it to be the most effective painkiller, (more effective than drugs like, Ibuprofen, Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin, etc) and you don't even have to be intoxicated, per se for it to work. As of this point, I'm in construction and somedays can be harder than others – Sometimes when I come home, my whole body aches. After a puff, the pain is effectively suppressed.

    I also work as a freelance graphic designer on the side for extra cash. When I come to a block, using marijuana helps stir creative juices to help me develop ideas for the project.

    As for driving high, since you mentioned it, I fully agree that it's not safe and would never consider the idea of doing it, and still find it ridiculous that people believe they can do it. Marijuana is a relaxant and a mind-altering substance, just as alcohol is, and if you can't drive under the influence of alcohol, it should be more than safe to say you can't do it using marijuana either.

    Anything you can consume, whether it be a drug or not can be abused, so you should just know that what you are experiencing where you live simply seems to be irresponsible marijuana use.

    • lkbmd

      Just a very quick reply–this post was brought back up elsewhere so I’m just now seeing it…

      You say marijuana is an herb/only when it gets put in a pill…um, no.

      A drug is a non-nutritional (non-food) substance that alters the body or mind–when consumed in ANY form–inhalation, ingestion, transdermally, subcutaneously, intravenously–this is fifth grade basic health here, and I’m a little embarrassed to correct it because you later use words–RELAXANT… MIND ALTERING SUBSTANCE… just like alcohol is…

      OK, so suddenly alcohol wouldn’t be a drug because stuff can ferment naturally (we didn’t really invent many things like curds/whey, wine… we discovered, perhaps, and replicated)? Relaxants… so is valium only a drug because it’s a pill?

      Let me drive the point home… heroin… opiates… gonna tell me that all those heroin producers are MERELY growing flowers and that despite the fact that they DO get high all throughout the mid-east regions where they illegally harvest the plant… being a plant doesn’t make tobacco an herb, doesn’t make any of them herbs.

      Herb is the street term–spinach is another–for it, but it doesn’t equate it to spinach just because someone uses that term because they are paranoid…

      Marinol is only a drug because marijuana is a drug, rather marijuana “contains” therefore is a drug–it contains SEVERAL pharmaceutic agents that combine for good and bad impacts.

      Oh, my own stance is very mixed. REAL medical use, yes–and in that I mean chemo. For stress, non-disease/trauma-specific pain, for anxiety… there are safer drugs in the same class that are safer because they are CONTROLLED… tightly so. I’m not against legalization with MUCH tighter controls, but frankly, California scares me as a practitioner in part because TOO MANY believe oh it’s just an herb… do you have any clue how many people get violently ill not “because” of the mj but because of MJ’s compound reaction with OTHER substances? Hi, I’m Cymbalta… take me alongside a joint and prepare to go into anything from a severe manic attack to a panic attack to having extremely critical heart palpitations not entirely unlike what happens with ecstasy… and it’s not just things that are prescribed for the same reason but those treat nerve pain the SAME WAY MJ helps ease pain… it’s NOT suppressing, it is doing the OPPOSITE. Suppressing neuroreceptors is what Zofran does; inhibiting the reuptake–which effectively INCREASES amounts of–these neuroreceptors is what (and they don’t all impact the same receptors) Paxil, Effexor, Prozac, Celexa, the ADHD med Strattera even… see, they all impact, but they TARGET what they are designed for and unlike pot, they tend to SHARPEN patients’ mental alertness and focus and make them have MORE energy and LESS pain day in day out. Sure, people don’t get the same high unless they overdose–and then it’s really not so high–sweating, shaking like crazy, snapping aggressively… yeah, real thrill, and the same happens if people OD on pot, which actually DOES happen sometimes, usually in group situations where someone takes more than their fair share, konks out, and is still inhaling the smoke (contact highs are very real things) of those around them when sleeping it off. Those people tend to puke, shake, and have an OVERFLOW of seratonin in particular, which frankly SUCKS. Migraines–which also happen for some users in withdrawal from MJ–and similar “too much” symptoms (oh, imitrex also–as a migraine med–does the opposite of marijuana’s main “benefit” that again happens to be found in other meds)…

      Would I prescribe it? Maybe. Would I try other options first? You bet. If nothing else helped, would I turn to MJ? Maybe. If it’s cancer, yeah, if it’s ALS, yup, if it’s MS, probably not because that’s not what causes the issues and um hi, it will possibly exacerbate the MS (or CP or CF or Parkinson’s–where dopamine is the key receptor)…

      Learn your definitions. I realize I sound snappy–I’m just in a rush to get this typed before I run out and forget it entirely… I thoroughly enjoyed the comments til this one that just… well, it’s bothersome.

      Anything can be abused, sure… people forget that just because the high leaves… that pot is in your body for a few WEEKS after that drag… it’s still there, you’re still impaired… you just have a different (an impaired) sense–and EVERY functional assessment study of THOUSANDS of people who are perfectly smart folks across universities, most hoping to legalize/support decriminalization at least!, supports the claim that it takes 15-25 days, depending on how sensitive (also how new) the person is to it–brand new consumers got back to functional levels fastest, to actually meet baseline. That said, longitudinal studies aren’t plentiful in America, but in Europe, most all of them show long term neurodegenerative effects–in other words, the brain’s response time and functional abilities drop and do NOT come back over time. Too much to scribble in a reply, but that’s the gist. I know Scandinavia, where I was for some time and got great access to intriguing work, did several mj and in the case of Sweden especially on heroin (they supply fresh needles to junkies to prevent HIV transmission etc, which go fig has made it cost less! They have “safe” places to go, shoot up, and voila, high until you die. Frankly, if I had to pick, I’d be hard pressed between MJ and narcs (heroin aside–that’s SCARY stuff–I mean Rx ones). The MJ will rot my brain faster and some newer research suggests that it carries all the risks and MORE of antidepressants/nerve pain SNRIs, right down to digestive ones (the weight gain isn’t “just” eating more–it messes with insulin sensitivity for patients, why not for rec users, too, methinks)… hmm, I know my blood vessels aren’t crazy about narcs. My organs dislike the mj. I say take neither between those–I’d take an SNRI first and find one that has less side effects (clinically, not just to my stunted, blunt(ed, heh) brain!) and works well…

      In any case, it’s a bit stupid to have such severe crimes, but then… those crimes often lead to STUPID driving while stoned, neglect (child services isn’t overall crazy about users… they tend to be bad parents because their reflexes and overall senses are slowed/dulled). These are the -s by the book. The +s exist, yep, but I’d only pick it if the others did NOT work. The others have ongoing tracking and QUALITY CONTROL. Anyway, time to leave, sorry so scattered! Take care all.

  • Peter

    I was a cannabis user for may many yrs before finally submitting to the will of God and truly becoming born again. I would try to justify it by using various scriptures but it just doesn’t fly for me any more. The things that really put me under conviction are 1. The legality of it as well as the euphoric slightly mind altering aspects of which the Bible is pretty clear on ( I won’t go into it here everyone has read them). The main one that hit home with me was the thousands of people every year that are killed along the way due to trafficking. Obviously that doesn’t hold to people that grow their own but those are far and few. But Joe that buys it from a “friend” has contributed to someone else’s demise or at worst stumbling. There is nothing worse that you can do than make someone stumble due to your life style or what you “think ” is Ok with God. Every time you light up think of the little kid in Juarez or Columbia that caught a bullet so you could get high. Whether you smoke Beasters or Columbian or home grown you still contribute to the problem. I truly pray for you all that Jesus will open your eyes and hearts to the damage you are doing the world. God did create the weed but not to be used for getting high. No different than licking toads to get high to eating morning glory seeds. You can learn to enjoy God’s perfect creation without the buzz. How difficult is it to witness to someone on the saving grace of Jesus while hitting on a bong and polluting the temple that you are supposed to be taking care of ?

  • http://rinmmkay.blogspot.com Mariah

    I know this post was a year ago, but I couldn’t resist.

    My parents were pot smokers. At the time they began smoking as young teens, they were making a bit of a mess of their lives, but that had nothing to do with the weed and more to do with . . . well, family issues. As adults, my dad quit smoking without any trouble, and my mom continued to smoke off and on whenever she could get a hook-up, for stress-relief purposes.

    I have seen people from all backgrounds smoking for many different reasons, and in my experience, it is not difficult at all for people to put down the weed when they feel it is no longer desirable or appropriate for them to continue to smoke. Some people miss it when they quit, and others don’t miss it at all. I believe that as far as any “addiction” is concerned, it is all in the mind of the user.

    I have seen some very lazy, boring smokers and some very highly motivated, creative, entertaining smokers. But the same is true for non-smokers also. In my last apartment, I lived with two stoners. Both were hardworking, beautiful, intelligent young ladies who smoked (quite a lot) daily, and the effect weed had on each of them was startlingly different. One became incredibly hungry and sleepy and would lay herself down on the living room floor with snacks and take 6 hour naps at a time and watch Jersey Shore (you’d HAVE to be high to enjoy that). The other would suddenly drop a world of stress and become relaxed, open, motivated (because as she said, “When I’m high, tomorrow doesn’t exist, so anything I have to get done, I need to do it NOW!”), and her creative juices would flow. Two completely different reactions. I think the reaction is entirely dependent of the individual.

    There are dangers to smoking weed as far as lung health are concerned, but there are health concerns when smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and so on. There are health concerns attributed to anything we do nowadays.

    I was hugely against smoking weed until one night, during a time of high stress and emotional trouble, I tried it. I smoked off and on with my roommates (nowhere NEAR as often as they did – probably twice a month, if that – and for me it was entirely for stress and pain relief) for a year, and then when I found a job I truly wanted, I stopped completely without any problems. I don’t see myself picking it up again because for me, it has come to that point where I no longer feel it is desirable or wise to do so.

    I can agree that driving intoxicated is certainly a terrible idea. I also think that texting while baked and grocery shopping while baked and answering phone calls from your parents while baked are all terrible ideas.

    Marijuana is beneficial for stress and pain relief, increasing appetite in those who are ill, getting the creative juices flowing (for people like my older roommate), as a sleep-aid (for people like my younger roommate), and for assisting people who may have difficulties with overcoming specific mental and physical problems preventing them from enjoying a satisfying sex life with a partner. This last is odd, but true in some cases. There have also been studies that show that in spite of certain health risks, children born to marijuana smokers are more socially and physically aware at a younger stage in their infancy and childhood than children of nonsmokers. I am slightly hesitant to lend any credibility to these studies only because to me, smoking weed and pregnancy don’t go together.

    I am fully in support of marijuana for medical purposes. I am fully in support of marijuana for recreational purposes too, as long as certain criteria are met:

    1. You can’t spend all your money on weed. Seriously. Bills come first.

    2. Students must maintain their grades

    3. Smokers should be at least 18

    4. Employees must be able to perform their duties at work to the satisfaction of their employer, including showing up on time.

    5. Smokers must remember not to blow smoke in the faces of those who don’t smoke (as with cigarettes)

    6. Don’t steal Cheetos just because you got da munchies. That’s no one’s problem but your own.

    7. If you can’t control yourself in public whilst baked, don’t go out in public whilst baked.

    I can understand everyone’s mental or moral stances against marijuana because I had them too. This is just my perspective as it has evolved after having more experience with weed throughout my life.

    • Tim

      High Mariah.

      I concur with most of your observations with a couple reservations. As a former pot smoker from the age of 16 until 29, I would warn youthful users to consider the trap of leaning on weed to take the stress off and relax. Stress is something all people have in their lives, and it is something that people need to develop coping skills to handle stress. I ducked stress and sadness with weed. And as my tolerances to the cheaper less potent brands increased, my bank became increasingly tapped to where I was dropping nearly $500 a month on a combo of weed, shrooms, and cocaine. As for weed being a gateway to other illegal substances…it wasn’t a physical gateway, but the culture to which liberal use of marijuana belongs, will eventually expose you to other people and friends who have tried and like the more harmful inebriates. Peer pressure will inevitably twist the arm and…c’mon anyone who tries mushrooms or cocaine rarely say, “Wow, that was lame!” I was a “weed only” teen until someone gave me a taste of other drugs. It was a playground…no it was Disneyland. And saying I would be a “weed only” teen was about as realistic as someone walking through the front gates of the Magic Kingdom and saying that they wouldn’t leave Main Street U.S.A.

      All this to say that drugs, even weed, can stunt the emotional and psychological growth of a teen. I think it’s foolish to use until a person is at least 21, maybe older. We aren’t through developing physically and mentally, sometimes until we are in our mid twenties. I have a theory that the steep increase in adult depression is linked to recreational drug use in the teens and early adulthood. I’m not even wild about prescribing anti-depressants to teens and young adults. I think a decent diet, regular exercise, and finding healthy social connections that don’t rely on booze or inebriates to have fun, are a good start when it comes to relieving stress. I have no problem with occasional use as an adult. Like having a couple beers, a glass of wine, a cocktail…a couple times a week. But daily dependence cripples a persons ability to build natural resistance to stress. It makes us weak and atrophied. When a real shit storm hits our life, we are I’ll prepared and no amount of good stuff will keep above the waves and billows.

      Sorry for rambling on, Mariah. But your post was provocative. Good stuff. Heheheheh. : )

      • http://rinmmkay.blogspot.com Mariah

        Tim

        I can certainly agree with all your points, wholeheartedly. My only thought to add is that as with any other aspect relating to drugs, as far as “gateway” drugs are concerned, is that it is in the mind of the user. BUT!!! Again, I agree with all your points. Especially when it comes to things like prescribing anti-depressants to teens and young adults. I agree that a healthy social and physical lifestyle is the best route for anyone, and that stress is something that all people must learn to deal with in their life.

        Former roommates were the perfect example of this. When the weed ran out, the older of the two would have some serious issues dealing with some of her problems. I never understood that, and even after I started smoking, I never quite got it. To me, problems are something to be faced, not covered up. When I smoked, it wasn’t because I needed to in order to face the stress and issues in my life, it was to take the edge off the strain. Same reason some adults down a few beers after a long day of work, which we both seem to agree is acceptable as long as it is not used as a crutch, or by a teen or young adult.

        I suppose it comes down to what I’ve been saying, and to a fact that can be applied to anything in life. It’s up to the individual. A person that can’t handle their problems sober certainly can’t do so when blitzed. A person that cannot make wise, mature decisions sober won’t be able to magically find the mindset to make those decisions when baked. I think that use of weed, drinking of alcohol, and other mind-altering substances, should be reserved for those adults who can show themselves capable of handling their lives and issues responsibly and with self-control.

  • Don Whitt

    I have never heard of a person going into a “pot rage” and shooting-up a school. I have never heard of anyone OD’ing on marijuana. I’ve never heard of anyone who was suffering in pain being kept from any other palliative treatment (including opiates), yet we withhold marijuanafrom patients in most states.

    IMHO, our anti-weed agenda is about politics/re-election, power and moral self-righteousness, not about compassion. I hope for, and look forward to, the day that we get the government and churches out of politics and purely into roles of supporting people instead of dictating social comportment at a granular level like we do with marijuana.

    You’re just offering your opinion, John, and you know I respect that. And, as usual, I don’t completely disagree. I think habitual intoxication is addiction. That includes using Xoloft for years, e.g., to feel better. But I also think grass is far less insidious than most and has the advantage of being created by nature’s hand, not Roche, Pfizer or Abbott Labs.

    My mother suffered from glaucoma, arrhythmia, strokes, migraines, depression and anxiety her whole life – I wish she could have felt like she could have used marijuana because it would have made her feel much better, helped her vision and prolonged her life – I miss her and I hold a grudge against those that dictated her med regimen. However, her religiosity and Victorian worldview prevented her from even considering such a measure, so i guess the MD’s can’t be held completely accountable for her suffering. But they are guilty of promoting an industrial approach to medicine in lieu of more natural and cheaper alternatives like marijuana.

    Someday we will move beyond this residual protestant prudishness and be more reasonable about how we view the garden within which we live. Today, we still have a foothold in those Victorian times, primarily thanks to religion and fear of something as innocent and beneficial as hemp. Too bad.

    Marijuana needs to be de-stigmatized, made legal and kept untaxed, just like the tomatoes in my garden – which, by the way, were branded as “evil” when they first arrived in Europe from the Americas.

  • Adam

    I tried pot once, in a coffee shop in Amsterdam. It did nothing for me. (I understand that is pretty common for first time users.) That was a couple of years ago.

    About 8 months ago I was introduced to JWH-018, a lab-created, synthetic cannabanoid that mimics the effects of THC. I loved it. I loved it a little too much. It helped me manage my chronic dysthymia (mild depression) better than Prozac ever did. It helped me deal with my high stress job, 60+ hour/week job. And, unlike for most people, I was getting in great shape. (I would always become hyper aware of my body, which made me want to work out alot.) Most importantly, however, it led to a number of spiritual insights that have had lasting positive impact.

    Of course, I also did some dumb shit, that wasn’t so beneficial. And it was a huge source of tension between my wife and I for a while.

    The DEA (in its infinite wisdom) decided to ban this and several other like substances. Ultimately, this was probably a good move as these synthetic substances are far less studied, and likely far more volatile, than natural THC. Anywho, as a result of the ban, I’ve been “clean” for a while.

    On balance, I firmly believe that the positives outweighed the negatives. However, there is no doubt that I allowed it to control me for a period of time.

    What does that mean? I really don’t know. But my feeling is that a great deal of the negative consequences were generated due to the social stigma attached to psychoactives (especially in traditional christian circles) rather than anything intrinsic in the experience.

    p

    In closing, I would like to make two observations:

    1) Religious traditions that have used psychoactives as a spiritual aid have generally treated these substances with a certain degree of reverence, which is in contrast to the stoner culture of which you are (understandable) skeptical. In my view, this is an important distinction. After all, it is not what we take into our bodies that defiles, but that which we put into the world.

    2) I am always inclined to err on the side of non-judgment, and Paul’s advice regarding meat sacrificed to idols seems to me particularly germane to this discussion: if you, being truly honest with yourself, believe that the use of marijuana is beneficialm go for it; but don’t press the issue with people who disagree. Because if there is one thing I would venture to condemn, it is that which causes discord with our neiighbors here on earth.

  • Bria LaPoint

    woW you

    dont know much about pot do you?

    I did a lot of research into the subject, especially since I had a friend that wanted to be the next Hunter S thompson.

    You know what a dangerous drug is? Ritalin! They perscribe it to people with ADD. One day I took it and I didnt feel right.

    Pot is the most beneficial drug on the planet, it helps with depression, cancer, anxiety, sleep, it aids weight gain, it also makes a great pain killer.

    California, Nevada and other states are legalizing it now.

    I smoked pot three times in my life, I have no regrets about it.

    I wont touch cocaine or heroine though.

    Oh I should also mention I have no issues with ethnobotany, because Im native American.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Why did you have to start out accusing me of not knowing much about pot? Leading with an insult isn’t a particularly effective way to get anyone to thereafter take you seriously, Snarky.

  • e2c

    has anyone here considered legitimate medical use? there are things (like the pain and side effects of chemo; also many severe chronic pain conditions) that can genuinely be helped by the careful use of cannabis. (fwiw, it can be made into a tincture; taken in food or teas, vaporized – all avoid the nasty problems associated with smoking *anything.*)

    I think there is, unfortunately, too much focus here on recreational use and not enough on legitimate medical use.

    And… carefully titrated doses of cannabis are one heck of a lot safer than opioid pain meds (which pharma companies like to push). Addiction to prescription pain meds is rampant – and sadly, many people get there simply because they cannot find relief at safe recommended doses.

    Maybe a bit more research is in order here? There’s a big, big difference between being a pothead and being a responsible user of medical cannabis.

    (also fwiw, cannabis dispensed in compounded capsules saved the life of a severely ill relative of mine who was not hungry after 6 weeks in a medically-induced coma… and weighed only 90 lbs. It made this relative hungry again, and I am happy to report that they gained weight and were able to make a near-complete recovery from the horrible medical crisis that they experienced…. and only used medical cannabis for as long as necessary.)

    perhaps if cannabis were decriminalized, it would be possible for legit research to be done on the various chemical compounds in the plant… by big pharma. The Feds have a lockdown on medical research at present, allowing only one university in the entire US to grow it for medical research purposes.

    Please… let’s look at this issue through some other lenses!

    • e2c

      also… I come from a small town that has been ravaged by heroin addiction, so I’m finding it difficult to “get” your picture of a town being ravaged by cannabis consumption. (Not joking nor meaning to flame; my home town was profiled in an MSNBC special on hard drug use in small towns some years back.)

      The same locale is also truly ravaged by meth (crank) addiction.

      Do I believe that there can be such a thing as psychological dependence? Yes. But I also am trying to weight what’s been said in the post against the blight caused by heroin, meth and alcohol addictions. All of these things things kill; cannabis doesn’t. (And I would far rather see college kids who are a little baked than see those same kids drinking so hard and heavy that they end up seriously abusing alcohol – or even dying of alcohol poisoning, from choking on vomit, etc.)


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