Can Christians Smoke Pot?
With the stigma around marijuana quickly disappearing, and the movement towards legalization of not only medicinal but recreational use of it, Christians should be thoughtfully thinking about how they should respond to these trends. In the past, it was easy for Christians to denounce pot because it was illegal, and Christians are clearly taught in Scripture to obey the laws of the land (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13). But where marijuana becomes legalized, can and should Christians use it within legal bounds?
The Bible does not directly address if smoking pot is a sin. In such cases, it is helpful to use the instruction from 1 Corinthians 6:12, which gives the believer three important questions to ask themselves about any behaviour that the Bible doesn’t directly condone or prohibit. The passage says:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
From this we can filter our question through three sets of criteria:
- Is it lawful?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it dominating/enslaving?
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Is it lawful?
Marijuana use is becoming legalized across North America. Depending where you live, you will need to check your own state or provincial laws to see what kind of marijuana consumption is legal in your area. Some still have no access, others have medicinal only, and others include legal recreational use. Even still, parameters are in place for legal consumption of marijuana—where and when and how and under what regulations you can grow or consume it. So to answer the question of “is it lawful?”, you will need to do your research.
Let’s just say that marijuana use is legal in your area. In that sense it is lawful. But is it lawful according to God’s law?
Some people quote Genesis 1:29 to say that the answer is yes. God declares “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” So God gives mankind dominion over the vegetation of the whole earth for him to use. As such, some will argue that God gave us marijuana plants for our good. But does this argument hold?
In one sense, the answer is yes. God entrusted mankind with dominion over the earth. Creation is not only ours to steward, but ours to enjoy. So there is some truth to that claim. However, to say that this verse endorses smoking pot is a stretch. That is the case because God concludes by saying the vegetation was “for food”. The main idea then is that God is giving the human race the earth for sustenance. God does not have smoking pot for fun in mind. He has not starving in mind. So to take Genesis 1:29 and apply it to marijuana use is out of context.
Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let’s say that God does indeed give us marijuana plants for our good. Using the 1 Corinthians 6:12 grid, we still have two more questions to answer.
Is it helpful?
Is marijuana use helpful? A recent report, which looked at 10,000 scientific studies of marijuana effects, concludes that there are only three definitive medical benefits of marijuana.
- relieves chronic pain in adults
- lessens chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- relieves symptoms of multiple sclerosis
Beyond these, there is only moderate, limited, or no evidence at all that marijuana has benefits in a person’s life. In addition, the report concludes that there are also definitive negative side-effects from marijuana use.
- Worsens respiratory problems, such as chronic bronchitis episodes
- Increase in motor-vehicle accidents
- Low birth weight in babies
- Schizophrenia or other psychoses
Together, this data suggests that there are only a handful of instances where marijuana really is “helpful” to an individual.
Is it enslaving?
So even if marijuana use is legal and helpful, the question remains, is it enslaving? Some research suggests that it is. While there are some people who use recreational marijuana without feeling addicted, others struggle to stop if they attempt to do so. And even those who claim to not be addicted may not fully appreciate the level of dependence they have on pot.
Though it is not definitive, there is some evidence that suggests marijuana use can lead to other, more severe, forms of drug and alcohol abuse. At the very least, those who end up using hard substances almost always began with something softer, like smoking cigarettes and weed.
The science suggests that marijuana at best could be an enslaving substance. Therefore, it’s pretty hard to say that it’s consumption passes the “enslaving” criteria of Scripture.
One Other Thing to Consider
So unless you are an adult in terrible chronic pain, a chemotherapy patient, or have MS, there is very little reason for you to be using marijuana. But again, for argument’s sake, let’s just say that you somehow managed to convince yourself that smoking pot for fun passes the Scriptural grid of 1 Corinthians 6:12, let me ask you this:
What makes you feel the need to do it?
What about your life makes you feel like you need to get a high in order to feel better? What problem does smoking weed solve? Is there really no other solution that leads to a healthier outcome, and a more mature and stable you?
Here’s the truth: it just ain’t worth it. Even if you can justify in your own mind the use of marijuana, you have better things to do with your time, money, and body. Twenty years from now, the chances of you looking back and saying to yourself boy, I sure am glad I started smoking pot are pretty slim. You’re far more likely to say, I sure am glad I never got started or I sure am glad that I quit.
Perhaps there are things going on in your life that make you want to get high. If so, I can understand the temptation to smoke those problems away. But here’s the thing: as soon as the high wears off, you’re right back where you started. Your problems are sitting there waiting for you again. So let me encourage you to deal with them another way. Get a counsellor, a mentor, a teacher, a parent, a pastor, a friend, or a coach who can help you develop yourself in a healthier fashion.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
The gift of a sober mind is a wonderful thing. With it you can see clearly, make better decisions, and create a better life for yourself. Don’t take that gift and throw it away for a temporary fix. It just ain’t worth it.