ReCAST Church

Michigan Medical Mary Jane

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?

About Don Filcek

Don Filcek

I like mountain biking even where there are no mountains. I like to jog and call it running. I read books to learn stuff. My family is pretty much awesome. ReCAST is the church where I belong. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I like the color yellow.

6 Responses

  1. anonymous with reason says:

    I have two questions in return. Why is the legalization movement avoiding the common avenue of medical approval?

    Senate Bill #618 specifically addresses this issue. It changes marijuana to a schedule 2 controlled substance like morphine and other hard narcotics. It specifically regulates growing, distribution, and consumption like any other prescription medication. This and 17 other bills relating to the MMMA have been proposed and our politicians will not act on a hot issue like this.

    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 respond to this question as one of the more “legitimate” patients using MMJ. In 2010 I was given 6 weeks to live. I beat the heck out of that, I’m still going. When a family faces issues like this some very personal decisions are made. Decisions that should not be brought into the light of day; God endows us all with free will. If I choose to use MMJ to replace (at a much lower cost) just one of the nearly $5000 a month in prescription drugs I take…what business is it of anyone but me. The bottom line is this drug is easier on a body than many of the drugs commercially available to me.

    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?

    Religion is such a personal and subjective subject…as Americans on the other hand not so much. What does the bible teach of tyranny? Not being a biblical scholar I can’t say, but I recall a tribe rising up against an oppressive government and escaping it’s force of rule through the dessert. As Americans we know. Our form of government is designed to prevent tyranny from taking hold. IT HAS ALWAYS been designed that way. We value our personal liberties above all else. It is designed so that the LOWER form of government has jurisdiction within its borders and that the power lies with the people.
    The MMMA was a voter initiative. It passed in a landslide. I find it curious that when we encounter different thinking among our population we turn instantly to the federal government (IE the school bully) to enforce our will on others. That is wrong as an American AND a Christian. The FED has no teeth on this issue other than income tax codes. It has been tested in court numerous times. The fed’s powers are limited to matters of Interstate commerce, so unless one is transporting over state lines they have no control. Any effort by the Fed to encroach on the sovereignty of the individual states is illegal. I wonder if folks would be so quick to invoke the name of the fed (or God) if the issue was counter to their personal choices in life…for example the teaching of creation in school how do Christians feel when the fed decides THAT is illegal.

    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?

    Smoking a doobie is not the only way…but it is one way. Who are you to decide how I treat my illness. It is none of my business how you treat yours. MJ is a schedule 1 substance for political reasons alone. I am treated by 5 doctors on a regular basis. They yell at me for smoking…getting mad…too much coffee…and any other number of poor decisions I make…BUT…Not one of them…NOT ONE…tells me not to use MMJ…in fact two suggest it…and one certifies it.
    The problem with the law as it stands…it is far too vague, it simply was drafted poorly. There are too many holes in it for both sides to breach. The law enforcement community has lost a valuable tool in their arsenal and they have moved against legal users in court. The pre-existing drug trade in MI has taken advantage of their new found ability to move product. It is obvious that there is work to be done to handle this issue, but we should NOT leave the issue in the hands of the prosecutor in the state, and currently it is. The politicians won’t act…so the prosecutor is. We need only remember our history, and that of many civilizations tossed into the scrap bin of history, to know what happens when one group of people (for any reason) begins to assert its will on another group. I’m sure our savior had an opinion on oppression…didn’t he.
    Anonymous

  2. Patti says:

    I am not usually one to comment on blogs and most definitely not on the subject of medical marijuana, but I have had many conversations with people and feel a need to respond. I honestly have not made up my mind about the whole situation. I am not wavering on a compassion level, as I agree there are other methods of pain control. First I will respond to the questions that have been posed. Why is marijuana not going through the craziness of other medications such as those Pfizer produces? Pfizer produces a product out of a combination of substances, both natural and synthetic. We need to know how those combinations are going to react together and within our bodies. Marijuana is a plant, in its natural form, no chemical additives or combinations. True, smoking a joint is not the only remedy for pain relief, but neither is a narcotic, there are other options besides ingesting a substance. As to the second question, I agree the current law is very poorly written. It is way too easy to get certified to use marijuana. I also know from experience with a family member that it is way too easy to get a prescription for narcotics, which are highly addictive. I am not sure how to put it into a Christian perspective, other than I agree that if it is deemed illegal it should not be done.

  3. John Klimp says:

    I am also baffled by our state government choices and the logic behind them. I know of, a few of these so called caregivers. The amount of plants they are allowed to grow produces far too much for the “perscriptions” that they fill. The rest they sell to kids and give to freinds. Nice huh, I also learned about the “Weed Doctor” that visits a local tattoo parlor, and writes perscriptions for anyone who tells him of pain. Then he will help with the paperwork for your “caregiver” also. This is a joke. I can’t believe this is the answer.

  4. Steven says:

    It started out harmless, and the stoners seem to have taken it to their advantage.

  5. anonymous says:

    Don, I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss this topic in such a public forum. Unfortunately, there is still such a stigma around the idea of MMJ that a lot of Christians/conservatives just totally steer clear of a chance for debate. I am writing this anonymously not because I am ashamed of what I am about to say but because I respect the differing opinions that my close loved ones hold enough not to bring our name into the conversations.

    As someone who is a registered user of MMJ, I can honestly say that this one prescription helps me with a multitude of issues that I could not afford to treat with your idea of “harmless” prescription drugs. While my needed prescriptions may not cost me $5000/month, as a member of society living under the “poverty line”, I cannot afford to fill a multitude of prescriptions to help the pain associated with my skewed vertebrae (result of an accident in high school that has caused me chronic discomfort for the past decade), the social anxiety I struggle with on a daily basis, or the crippling depression that likes to creep up on me when I don’t take care of the other two. I have had doctors offer to write me prescriptions for the separate issues I deal with, but upon reviewing the help that MMJ provides and the cost associated with filling the various prescriptions, they agree that MMJ is a better option.

    Yes, people do abuse the new found “freedom”, but not everyone. Just like with any group moving for social change there is a group of individuals finding loop holes in the system and jumping right through them. My old caregiver is a prime example. He is allowed to grow 12 plants for just me. Yes, that is a lot. Way more than I need. Each plant can produce up to 4 ounces from a harvest and with 12 plants growing that is a possibility of 48 ounces in a month! To put this in perspective, I go through about a 1/2 ounce each month. Where does the rest go? Not to friends or teenagers, but to compassion clubs/dispensaries that are set up to help the people that don’t have a personal caregiver. I am okay with that b/c my surplus is helping other people. The part I take issue with is the fact that he is making $7.50/gram wholesale off my surplus (up to $5500/month!). My caregiver has decided to push all of his “patients” away because he doesn’t need us anymore to support his family now that he can sell it by the pound to dispensaries–I have chosen to legally step away from him and his shenanigans because I see the swarthy decisions he’s making based on greed and I want nothing to do with it.

    While MMJ is intended to help the people who are suffering, is it really? Or is helping the handful of greedy “caregivers” who have decided this is the best way for them to support their family? By being a legal drug dealer. I don’t think so. I truly believe this is not what the lawmakers intended when writing the bill. Just like with most other things that could make a huge difference for the people of our country, there is a handful of people (including the patients that make up stories of back pain or whatever just to get it) who, through their gross negligence of the positive intentions of the MMA, will most likely ruin it for the rest of us.

    As a Christian, I have no qualms about being a registered user. In fact, I firmly believe that recreational use should be legalized and regulated just like drinking and smoking cigarettes. I personally see the spotlight against marijuana to be just as silly and hypocritical as the spotlight on homosexuality–people glean what they want from biblical passages and make one thing out to be worse than the multitude of similar things listed right with it. Since when did homosexuality become a bigger sin than the gluttony, greed, lying, and other forms of corruption listed with it in most cases in the Bible? When did marijuana become a worse substance than alcohol or cigarettes? Out of the three, it is the only one not changed or chemically altered after harvest.

    Again, thank you for your openness to discuss this subject. This is one of the things I love most about reCAST and I hope it continues on.

  6. anonymous says:

    Sorry, I mistyped an abbreviation. MMMA, not Mixed Martial Arts……

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