In the 2013 elections, two states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, despite the federal government's laws against it. These political shifts both create and reflect changes in American culture, while positions on the ethical and moral consequences of the personal use of drugs range from enthusiastic support to entrenched resistance. Arguments about these actions have focused on the unequal enforcement of existing laws and discrimination in prosecution of them, as well as on the health—both physical and spiritual—of substantial drug use.
Yet, according to opinion polls, Americans' support for decriminalizing personal drug use is steadily increasing. Many religious leaders have expressed concerns about the anticipated consequences of decriminalization on individuals, families, and society. How should faith communities respond to the growing debate about recreational drug use, and the changing climate around treating drug use as a criminal matter? If the government loosens laws and reduces or abolishes penalties for personal drug use, is it respecting individual liberties, or failing to protect the health and wellbeing of its citizens?
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