The Morality of Personal Drug Use

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?

The Patheos Public Square is produced in partnership with Christianity Today and the Progressive Christian Initiative.

Patheos Archives


Patheos regularly hosts a variety of symposiums and series on current events and trending topics. Open the list below for a full offering of our topical pages featuring curated columns, blogs, and articles by subject.


In the Public Square, we connect the timely and the timeless and host conversations about some of the most important questions in life. For a full list of topics featured in our Public Square open the list below.