Yesterday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill legalizing marijuana in his state. Nineteen states have legalized medical marijuana, while 10 others are considering similar legislation. However, only Colorado and Washington have decriminalized recreational use, at least so far.
What’s wrong with legalizing marijuana? After all, a growing majority of Americans support this action. In 1969, only 12 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84 percent were opposed. Now 52 percent say marijuana should be made legal, while 45 percent disagree.
But consider the medical risks. Marijuana, unlike alcohol, is highly addictive, toxic to the body, and often leads users to other illegal drugs. Three or four marijuana joints are as bad for the lungs as 20 cigarettes. Marijuana smoke affects the brain, lungs and heart. It has toxic properties that can lead to birth defects, respiratory system damage, brain damage, and stroke.
Teen users are at increased risk for schizophrenia, depression and suicidal thoughts. And they are more likely to engage in dangerous and delinquent behavior, from unsafe sex to driving under the influence. Children in treatment facilities are more likely to have abused marijuana than any other substance, alcohol included. And marijuana use has been clearly linked to sharp increases in crime.
One argument for legalization is that we need to relieve courts from drug offenses that are clogging dockets. However, by this logic, the more common a crime, the less it should be prosecuted. There are other ways to enforce the laws, from civil courts to arbitration.
A second assertion is that states which legalize will see a boon in tax revenue. But many analysts doubt that these revenues will materialize, and this logic supports legalizing cocaine, heroin, and other drugs as well. A third claim is that illegal drug dealers will be put out of business and will leave. In reality, it’s more likely that they will branch out into other drugs that are still illegal but popular. Meanwhile, advocates will begin pushing for legalizing other drugs as well.
What does Scripture say? While marijuana is not mentioned in Scripture, God’s word forbids intoxication (Habakkuk 2:15; Galatians 5:21) and teaches us to “be self-controlled” (1 Peter 5:8). Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) and are to be used for God’s glory and our good.
What do you think? Remember this fact: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).