“In the beginning, God created pot.” So begins chapter one of Can I Smoke Pot: Marijuana in Light of Scripture. No doubt the authors have a high view of creation. God created marijuana, and he declared all of creation good in Genesis 1:31. This is a timely book since many states have just elected the legal use of weed.
As I see it, the authors break down the discussion into two camps; authority and abuse. Put another way, the use of marijuana is bound by the parameters of obeying government and protecting human health, both physical and spiritual.
Appealing primarily to Romans 13, the authors exhort Christians to obey the Holy Spirit’s mandate of submission to government. If the government says no, then to disobey government is to disobey God, for “all authority is from God,” Romans 13:1.
Naturally, any Christian would agree with this point. Yet, I am not sure about the claim that, “…if any level of government under which you live outlaws marijuana use, you are not permitted by Scripture to break that law” (page 35). Is it really clear as to whom to obey during conflicting commands? Shouldn’t we defer to the higher authority? I am not sure it is clear cut that any person in the chain of command can overrule any other authority in the chain of command. I could be misunderstanding their point, however.
The second major focus is the beneficial use of marijuana. A point well made sticks in my mind; simply because God made fire, and it’s au naturel, does not mean you and I should put fire in our mouths or attempt to consume it. Sadly, this fallacious argument runs rampant.
Can I Smoke Pot? pays heed to the observations of medical benefits. For example, children suffering through chemo find a solution to vomiting in THC-laced brownies. Yet, they point out that medical experts need to be making these decisions in conjunction with legislators, and asking many other questions, like, “What are potential side effects?” or, “Will medical use increase rec use?”
I will let you read the book for yourself to discover the conclusion. It is a quick read well worth your time. However, I wish Mark L. Ward and Tom Breeden would have addressed the civil magistrate in more detail. For example, they point out that weed is a “Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level, technically a no-no for practically all Americans, regardless of what state laws might say” (page 31).
This normally would indeed be an open and shut case. However, historically and constitutionally, the founders of the government never saw federal government as superior to the states, but the states over the federal. This is perhaps an invalid form of government, and perhaps an invalid way to reason. Nevertheless, it is a common claim that needs assessment. I do understand the book’s strength is its brevity, however. Overall, it is worth your time if you want to understand the subject Biblically.
Reminiscent of Francis Schaeffer, the book boldly declares, “If you can’t use the bible to answer your questions you don’t really understand it” (page 5). True words. The question of recreational pot is here to stay, and will continue to grow as a pressing issue in the years ahead of us. Pastors, churches, and proponents of marijuana themselves, in this discussion cannot afford to let personal experience take lead. The will of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, as he has revealed himself in the canon of Scripture, must take that lead.
For Further Discussion:
The Gospel Coalition asks, Is Recreational Marijuana a Sin?
John Piper weighs in with, Don’t Let Your Mind Go to Pot