I sit on the Van Buren County Substance Abuse Task Force which may seem like a strange place for a Pastor to be, but I was invited and have found it to be a great way to connect with others who have a desire to have an impact in a positive way in this community.
This morning, at our monthly meeting we had Ken Stecker from the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan come and present the latest information on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. I have had more conversations with people about Marijuana in the past two years than I have had in all the years 37 years prior! From a woman stopping by the church (who doesn’t attend here) to tell me that she is ready to divorce her husband because he is addicted to the stuff, to high schoolers smoking pot in the cemetery next to the church, to a young man who has told me that his love for “bud” is a huge hurdle between him and his dreams of going to college.
Regardless of where we fall on the issue of medicinal Marijuana, I can say as a Pastor of a pretty contemporary church, that it is trending toward a major issue in my community. Now I can hear some people challenge my compassion . . . “But, Don, what about those cancer patients who have no other way of pain management?!”
I have two questions in return. Why is the legalization movement avoiding the common avenue of medical approval? Pfizer has to submit to crazy regulations to get a drug approved! And then those drugs require a prescription. They are highly regulated from patent, through production, to storage and in distribution (If it’s a medicine keep it at a pharmacy!). The second questions has to do with the reality of the application of the current law. In the State of Michigan there are 63,735 people certified to use medical Marijuana. Only 1,407 have cancer. 59,343 have been issued cards under the “Other diagnosis” category which include pain, muscle spasm, or nausea.
I will go for pain killers quick if I have severe persistent pain, but I cannot believe that smoking a joint is the only potential remedy. THC comes in a pill for goodness sake. Prescribe it and regulate IF it is really about Medicine. But somehow, I have this sneaking suspicion it is not really about medicine at all.
As Christians how should we think about this? I am not going to tell you how to think, but I will paint a picture of a couple of Biblical principles that everyone ought to consider. First is that of obedience to the government found in the first 4 verses of Romans 13. Our Federal Government recognizes Marijuana as a class 1 substance, illegal and possessing NO medical benefit. They back this up with study after study. The MMMA is in direct defiance of the Federal government. I am not sure that Marijuana is a good cause for Christian opposition to our Federal Government. Any Christians out there disagree?
Lastly, there is never one facet to compassion. I lost both of my parents to cancer and saw my father in pain. I remember the ambulance coming to get him in the middle of the night. I do not wish pain on anyone. But we can be so quickly moved by compassion that we believe that there is no other way for relief. Smoking a doobie is not the only way. And what about compassion for those who are being owned by this drug? Where is our compassion for them?