Possibly cannabis-driven format aside, the piece is worth a listen. It runs over most of the arguments for and against legalization.
Over the past few months, I've informally polled some folks, Christians and non-Christians from a variety of backgrounds and ages. I've been surprised at the responses. One family friend, in her mid-60s and a devout charismatic Christian, told me cannabis should be legal, and alcohol should be banned. Marijuana is not something widely discussed within Christianity, and I'm curious what other believers really think.
So I created some poll questions, which will run until June 1st. They're down at the bottom of this post.
The NPR piece covers most of the arguments for and against, but I'll go over them very briefly here.
Arguments ForI'm sure there are many other arguments, but I'll use these as a starting point. What do you think? I'd love to hear about any points I'm missing in the comments. I'd also like to get a wide array of feedback, so please invite anyone else you know to weigh in, or at least take our poll.
Tax Revenue - Marijuana is the largest cash crop in Alaska, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. It is in the top three in 27 others. The tax revenue from marijuana sales would, if not fix, then alleviate the budget crises of states like California.
Impact on Mexican Cartels - Marijuana, not cocaine or heroin, is the largest source of income for the Mexican drug cartels, and legalizing it would hinder their operations greatly. While drug trafficking would continue (along with other nasty cartel business, like kidnapping), it would be dramatically reduced.
Advantages Over Current Drugs - For medicinal use, marijuana is arguably better than prescription pain medication. It is less physically addictive than opiates, and less harmful over time. Additionally, it could be argued marijuana is safer than alcohol...it's less addictive, less harmful and less likely to result in dangerous or violent behavior and overdosing.
A Less Burdened Legal System - Courts would be freed of prosecuting marijuana-related offenses. Prisons and jails would have more room.
A Rise in Marijuana Use - Whether or not marijuana is safer than alcohol and prescription drugs doesn't make it a good thing. More widespread use would likely result in a less productive society, along with a whole host of negative health effects.
Gateway - Lax laws on a formerly illicit drug would open the door for further experimentation with harder, more dangerous drugs.
Big Business - While marijuana growing might not reach the levels of Big Tobacco, it would certainly open a cultural floodgate and would, at some point, be marketed to children. (Though some would argue children's television has been drug-induced since the Sixties.)
Biblical Viewpoint - While I'm sure plenty of hippies disagree, there isn't much Biblical support for using marijuana. At the very least, Scripture's order to avoid drunkenness and definition of sloth and gluttony as sin harshen the buzz. In other words, when it comes to the weed itself, there isn't much reason for Christians to advocate legalization.
Should marijuana be legalized?
Have you ever smoked or otherwise consumed marijuana?
If marijuana was legal, would you consume it?