Statement on the Legalization of Cannabis
from the Pastors and Elders of West Highland
[October 19, 2018]
On Wednesday of this past week the use of recreational cannabis became legal across Canada making us the second country in the world to do so. This has put Canada in the spotlight of the international media. The legalization of recreational marijuana has been applauded as progressive and historic by politicians and a “good news” announcement by marijuana producers and distributors. The Pastors and Elders of West Highland want to make a clear statement to you the people of West Highland. We want to express a concern and give you a clear directive. We are compelled to do so because the Risen Christ has appointed us as overseers and shepherds of his sheep at West Highland. The following concerns and directives flow from our responsibility to work with the Great Shepherd of the sheep to guide all of us along the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
First, our concern and directive to you is not about the medical use of marijuana. Using marijuana for medical purposes as directed by a physician is not the same thing as using it simply to get high, and make no mistakes about it, that is the point of recreational use.
Secondly, we are alarmed that some Christians are arguing that to use marijuana recreationally is as simple as equating it with having a glass of wine. This is not the case. While it is possible for a person to enjoy alcohol responsibly without feeling the effects of intoxication, the point of smoking marijuana is to feel the effects of intoxication. Studies are conclusive that intoxication occurs with no more than four puffs of a joint. No one puffs on a joint for the purpose of experiencing a nuanced flavour, but rather for a nuanced and specific high. The importance of sober-mindedness for the people of God in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures is stressed in a number of not so subtle commands. Furthermore, both Galatians 5:21 and 1 Corinthians 6:10 tell us emphatically that those who persist in seeking their comfort in some sort of intoxication will not inherit the kingdom of God. This issue has more than sociological, familial or medical consequences. There are also eternal consequences.
Thirdly, research is clear that recreational cannabis distorts reality and numbs people to the ability to experience life as it truly is. It will ultimately render us unable to enjoy a flourishing life which is rightly ours in Christ. Even a relatively small amount of THC (THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) puts the user into a fog. Regular use of recreational marijuana causes disengagement, dulling individuals into long term, slow and subtle numbness. Anyone who has used cannabis on a regular basis will speak about this phenomenon.
Fourthly, the Scriptures uphold for us the value of self-control as a gift given to us by God the Holy Spirit. By failing to be self-controlled we also fail to love our neighbour. Self-control is not something given to us for our own sake. The Spirit gives us self-control that we might be beacons of light in a volatile world. Self-control makes our witness powerful. In a medicated age where days are scheduled according to happy hours and now dispensary hours, the self-controlled Christian is able to tell their neighbour that there is a better and more excellent way. In the Canada of today and tomorrow, is there anything more powerful, and thus question-inviting, than a person who is able to withstand the storms of life without the aid of substances?
Fifthly, the Elders and Pastors of West Highland are committed to upholding these directives in our own lives and acknowledge that failure to do so must result in our being removed from the privilege of serving Christ as Shepherds in his church and unrepentant use of recreational marijuana will only lead to church discipline for us and for the members of West Highland. We therefore, urge that these directives should be accepted wholeheartedly by all in the West Highland family as adherence to them insures we will walk in the paths of righteousness and living by them wonderfully adorns the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Finally, the legalization of cannabis only underscores even more the importance and responsibility we have as Christians in Canada to pray for those in authority over us. The federal government’s premise that it is impossible to police this pervasive drug, so let’s tax it and make money on another societal behaviour that harms people, is a clear indicator of government losing sight of its calling to be God’s servant for good. So let us renew our commitment to pray regularly for government leaders and law enforcement personnel, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”