The federal government of the United States has declared the possession of marijuana to be illegal. Enormous resources are expanding policing its importation, production, sale, and use – and for good reason. It is an addictive, harmful, mind-altering substance. However, while still against federal law, marijuana is now legal in nine states including Michigan. Last week, a ballot proposal to legalize possession, use, commercial production, and distribution of “pot” passed by a large majority. The legalization of marijuana would have been unimaginable years ago. Why? What changed?
I believe this ballot proposal received popular support for several reasons: First, the groups sponsoring this proposal were highly organized (pardon the pun) and well funded. Organizations wishing to produce and sell marijuana for profit invested millions of dollars in advertisements to convince voters that legalization is a good idea. Those opposed to legalization had limited resources and no direct economic advantage in their favor.
Second, there is wide-spread ignorance regarding marijuana use. The drug culture invaded America back in the 1960’s. At the time, the recreational use of hallucinogenics and illicit drugs was generally known to be dangerous. Today, because it has become so commonplace, many have come to believe that smoking weed is harmless recreation. It is not. The adverse effects of marijuana are almost too numerous to catalogue. Medically, it impairs memory, attention span, judgment, and coordination. For those who use it frequently, or use it while young, it damages brain development, lowers intelligence, and is often addictive. Whatever adverse effects smoking a cigarette may have on the lungs, smoking marijuana is far worse. It is linked to pregnancy problems, heart problems, and cancer. Socially, marijuana use is linked to lower educational achievement, diminished work performance, unemployment, criminal behavior, and domestic problems.
The third and biggest reason for the passage of Proposal 1 is that our society is experiencing a changing, diminishing morality. Deliberately becoming intoxicated was once widely considered reprehensible behavior. Now it is popular recreation. Of course, the Bible teaches “be not drunk with wine.” (Eph. 5:18) Drunkenness not only incapacitates a person from doing what is beneficial; it produces injury, accidents, and violence. Proponents of legalization compared marijuana use to alcohol. This is a faulty comparison. Only a small minority drink to become drunk. Everyone, without exception, who smokes pot does so to get high. Apart from being anesthetized for medical reasons (Gen. 2:21), purposefully having your mental faculties and senses impaired is sinful.
Someone asked me after Election Day how I felt about the passage of Proposal 1. I replied, “Sad.” It is sad for the young people who will now have easier access to something than can permanently damage their lives. It is sad for the increased number of children whose parents will spend their money on weed rather than food and clothing. It is sad for those who will be involved in an increased number of injury accidents.
In case you haven’t noticed, we do not have a problem with too many over-achieving, ambitious young people. Nor do we have a surplus of responsible, hard-working, sober-minded adults. We do not need more automobile accidents to keep the police and fire departments busy. We do not need more domestic problems and child neglect to justify our government’s investment in social services. We do not need more lazy stoners to beef up the welfare rolls. Lack of inebriation is not a community problem! It was a sad day for our state when the people voted to their own harm and approved Proposal 1.